Benson was one of hundreds gathered to view the memorial procession for Sgt. Jason Goodding, a Seaside police officer who died in the line of duty Feb. 5. Goodding was serving a felony warrant for assault when he was shot by a suspect.
Benson has only lived in Seaside since November of last year, but as a veteran, he felt strong ties to Goodding as a fellow serviceman.
“Any time an officer is lost, we lose somebody in the community, and that hurts us in a way,” Benson said. “It deepens our heart.”
Benson joined other veterans and law enforcement officers in the crowd when he turned and saluted the hearse carrying Goodding’s casket.
“I’m here to honor his legacy,” Benson said. “It’s integrity that the police officers have that makes them special.”
Officers came from nearly every city and county agency in Oregon, with others coming from around the country. Contingents from both the New York and Chicago police departments traveled to the Oregon coast as well.
They heard family and friends remember Goodding as a husband, father of two daughters, star athlete, basketball coach and avid Oregon Ducks fan.
Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin worked with Goodding when their departments crossed paths, but he also lived next-door to the fallen officer. Bergin shared stories with the crowd of mourners, just as he would with his closest friends at the station.
“[Goodding] always made every single person he talked to feel like he was their best friend,” Bergin said.
“It doesn’t matter if you know the person. I don’t know anybody from Seaside, but we’re all together on this,” said Jim Luebke, a sheriff’s deputy from Linn County.
Luebke said Goodding’s was one of many police funerals he’s attended throughout his career. He finds it crucial to stand with law enforcement agencies — especially in small towns like Seaside — in times of loss. Seaside has a population of less than 7,000 people, according to the 2013 census.
Seaside Police Chief Dave Ham, a close friend of Goodding, said the community has come together in the week since the officer’s death. He encouraged community members in the crowd and watching live to stay strong and turn tears of sadness into tears of joy in Goodding’s honor.
“I’m proud to live here,” Ham said. “I’m proud to be a part of this family.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown posthumously awarded Goodding the state Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice, which is an award given to police officers who die in the line of duty or are killed because of their work. Brown presented the award to Goodding’s widow, Amy Goodding, and daughters Joslyn, 13, and Jayden, 10.
Seaside Police Sgt. Gary Welborn couldn’t hold back tears as he eulogized Goodding, his partner at the department. He spoke directly to his friend, who lay in the flag-draped casket below the podium.
“Godspeed to you,” Welborn said. “We have the watch.”