In October 1973, Prince William Police Officer Paul T. “Pete” White Jr. was responding to a traffic crash in the Haymarket area when his car veered into a ditch, overturned and caught fire. White was pulled from the wreckage and taken to a hospital where he died several days later on Oct. 27, 1973. White’s was the first line-of-duty death in the newly-formed Prince William County Police Department.
On Oct 27, 2013, the Department celebrated the service and commemorated White’s sacrifice at the Paul T. White, Jr., police station, 8900 Freedom Center Boulevard in Manassas where Prince William Police Captain Ted McInteer gave a remembrance for White.
McInteer told the gathering of about 100 of his training with White at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy in Fairfax County in 1971. He said spending 16 hours a day for five days a week with other recruits gave them the opportunity to get to know each other and that he became friends with White and the others.
He told of hearing of White’s accident while he was on duty and of learning more about the accident later in the day when his shift ended. McInteer talked of the trying times that followed as White lay in the hospital. “The hours and days afterwards were difficult, even more so with Pete’s untimely death. The loss of one of our own, especially someone you knew and worked with, are very difficult and a sobering reality of what can happen to us as police officers.”
White’s widow, Christy, who never remarried, called White her “soul mate” and said events such as the commemoration ceremony offered his nephews a chance to learn something of their uncle. “All they know of their uncle is what they learned from us, and when you guys do something like this, it is so special. They can participate. They can feel and get to know, not only what we feel about their uncle, but how much you guys respect him, too.”
White’s brother, Mike White, who was 13 when his brother died, told of the times he and his brother Robert substituted as arrestees as they were growing up with Pete White, who wanted to be a police officer from young age. “Bob and I were normally his test dummies for practicing his take-down tactics and how to detain suspects. We spent hours hand-cuffed to the bed, or something around the house.”
Mike White said he took solace in knowing that, “Pete died doing what he loved to do.” Prince William County Police Chief Stephan M. Hudson reminded those in attendance that although that line-of-duty deaths have decreased dramatically from 242 a year nationally 40 years ago to 120 last year, those line-of duty deaths should not be lost in the numbers. “For those of us who are gathered here, Pete was far more than just a statistic. He left behind a loving family. He left behind the men and women of a young police department who cared deeply for him. The service and sacrifice of Pete and our other fallen officers make us proud to wear this uniform.”