Portland police mourn death of officer
Portland Tribune Article -
Portland police mourn death of officer
By Nick Budnick
LocalNewsDaily.com, Jan 27, 2008
In a show of respect for a well-liked Portland police officer who died early Sunday, Mayor Tom Potter has ordered flags on all city of Portland buildings to be flown at half-staff.
Officer Mark Zylawy died when he was struck on Interstate 5 by a tractor-trailer rig while standing beside his car, which had broken down. He had been on his way to work in Northeast Portland when he was killed around 6:30 a.m.
"Officer Zylawy was not only a great officer, but a great friend to many in the communities he served with compassion and concern," said Potter. "His loss will be felt not only by the neighborhoods of Northeast Portland, but in every neighborhood in our city.
"Our thoughts are with Mark's wife, Patricia, and his four children."
The flags will remain lowered until services are held for Zylawy later this week.
For years, Zylawy has been among the most well-respected police officers in Portland. Ask a hundred officers who the best cop in the Portland Police Bureau is, and Zylawy, known as “Z-man,” would be far and away among the top vote-getters.
Though just 40 at the time of his death, Zylawy was already a 17-year veteran and legendary among coworkers for his unequaled work ethic and low-key, humble demeanor. During his lengthy stint working Northeast Precinct, he earned a reputation as a compassionate straight-shooter, including among those he arrested. In fact, thanks to his good reputation with those he policed, Zylawy could hardly appear in public downtown or in Northeast Portland without receiving shouted friendly greetings and waves from people he'd put in handcuffs years before.
In a ride-along with this reporter years ago, it was clear why people liked him so much: he treated people as equals, and treated people with compassion even while arresting them.
At one point, after taking in an apparently drug-addicted prostitute on a warrant, he then took a break from his patrols to knock on doors and hunt for the guy who'd allegedly beaten her.
He also had a phenomenal memory that not only helped him spot wanted criminals, but it also helped him remember details of what was important to them, making him a better cop.
‘Such a nice guy’
Unlike some active, hardworking officers, Zylawy almost never generated tort claims or internal affairs complaints, a characteristic that Chief Rosie Sizer in an interview prior to his death attributed to the respect with which he treated people.
“He was such a nice guy,” said bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “He was a really, really — I mean really good guy. He was everything you could ask for in a cop.”
Schmautz also sent the following e-mail to reporters containing a statement that Sizer put out bureau-wide. In it, Sizer relates information from the Washington State Police and refers officers to the Employee Assistance Program for assistance.
Schmautz wrote: ”I am beginning to get media calls about Officer Mark Zylawy who was killed this morning in Washington. Mark was one of the most uniquely gifted police officers I have ever had the privilege of working with. He will be greatly missed.
“Earlier this morning Chief Sizer sent this message to all members of the Portland Police Bureau. Mark’s family has asked that they be left alone while they attempt to come to grips with this devastating loss.”
Statement by Chief Sizer:
It is with great sadness that I have to give everyone this information.
At 6:32 this morning, Portland Police Officer Mark Zylawy was killed in a collision on I-5 southbound in Vancouver. From information obtained from WSP [Washington State Patrol], it appears that Mark’s car broke down and he had pulled over onto the shoulder of the freeway. Mark was struck and killed by a truck that was driving by his vehicle. WSP is continuing the investigation.
Mark was 40 years old and had been a police officer for 17 years. He is survived by his wife and four children. I can not think of the words to sum up Mark's life. Mark earned the respect of everyone by his hard work, dedication, and integrity. Mark loved being a police officer and gave more than we will ever be able to give back. Please keep his family in your thoughts.
As always EAP is available if anyone would like to speak with someone about this tragic event. EAP will also forward information on a memorial service when information becomes available.
- Rosie Sizer Current Mood: sad