Saturday, September 02, 2000

Officer Crayon 'always looked for the good side in people'

By Tim Bonfield and Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It took longer than usual for Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Crayon to realize his dream of becoming a police officer. He didn't get to live it very long.

        Officer Crayon was killed early Friday in Mount Airy after being dragged by a car driven by a 12-year-old boy. He was a 40-year-old father of three who had been a police officer only four years.

        “He was known as a very compassionate man, a very kind man who always looked for the good side in people,” said Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher.

        Despite his short tenure, Officer Crayon was well-known among business owners along Colerain Avenue and had won praise from more experienced detectives for his role in solving a recent homicide and for providing key information about a bank-robbery suspect.

        “To win the respect and admiration of our homicide detectives, that's a tremendous asset to the force,” the chief said.

        His death struck a deep blow to police, especially for members of District 5, who have lost three other officers since late 1997. That it all happened over a boy violating curfew and driving without a license made the loss that much more painful.

        Officer Crayon worked a tough overnight shift in Cincin nati's most sprawling police district, patrolling an area that includes Camp Washington, Clifton, College Hill, Fairview, Mount Airy, Northside, South Cumminsville, University Heights, Winton Hills and Winton Place.

        “You have every cross-section of society in that district,” Chief Streicher said. “It's a very, very active district.”

        Officer Crayon, who lived in Forest Park, had been many things before joining the force. He was a high school wrestler and an Army veteran who did a tour of service in Germany. He was a member of the Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church.

        Officer Crayon spent most of his career as a computer and electronics technician. He repaired printers at one job, gathered test data for an updated version of the M-1 tank at another.

        But one constant in his life was his devotion and care toward others — especially children.

        Friday evening, two of his aunts and his sister held a press conference at a family member's Evendale home and spoke of Mr. Crayon's love of community service through policing.

        Though he entered law enforcement late in his career, his sister Vicki Albright-Travis said, “he tried his hand at many things ... but I really believe it was his calling and his passion ... He was great at what he did.”

        None of the family members expressed anger toward the 12-year-old or the boy's family. They said their deep religious convictions wouldn't allow such emotion.

        “People make mistakes,” his aunt, Jackie Stafford, said of the boy, Courtney Mathis. “All we can do is pray for them ... I'm sure the 12-year-old's mom feels the same way.”

        Cincinnati Police Officer Scotty Johnson, president of the black officers' Sentinel Police Association, joined family members Friday evening.

        “The whole community is mourning,” he said. “We have to forgive, love and move on.”

        At Winton Woods High School — known as Forest Park High School when Officer Crayon graduated in 1977 — staffers and students ob served a moment of silence.

        “He walked these halls and he is a part of us,” Winton Woods principal Larry Day said.

        Mr. Day said he was surprised to learn that Officer Crayon was the second graduate from the Class of 1977 to become a police officer and die in the line of duty.

        In May 1996, Forest Park grad Daniel Fraembs was fatally shot while patroling an industrial area in Pomona, Calif.

        Officer Crayon was divorced and had three children, ages 19, 16 and 13. His ex-wife and his children live in Atlanta.

        His parents, who live in Forest Park, declined to comment.

        At the Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church, administrator Jerry Mitchell said members were “in total shock.”

        “We've all been in a kind of daze,” Mr. Mitchell said. “He was a very decent man. He had his priorities in place and was very caring.”

        The Rev. Freddie Piphus described the Cincinnati officer as always having “a genuine warmth and smile.”

        “He was a faithful member of our church,” he said.

        Officer Crayon joined the force as a recruit in July 1996. He became a full-fledged officer in December 1996 and has won praise for his police work. His record includes two on-duty traffic accidents in 1999, but neither led to any serious injury or property damage.

        In February, he transferred to District 5, where he was working a 9 p.m.-5 a.m. shift. Police call it the “power shift,” because larger numbers of officers are on duty to deal with overnight trouble.

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