TPD to host memorial for Officer Harley Mark

Mark, 48, was a veteran officer in the department, who was tragically killed on Sept. 6, 1993 while in pursuit of an escaped, dangerous convict from what was then known as Goshen Jail, now is known as Goshen County Detention Center, when another law enforcement agency struck his vehicle during the pursuit.

TORRINGTON – Almost 29 years ago, Torrington Police Department (TPD) mourned the loss of one of its own, and to this day, TPD Lt. Harley Lorenze Mark is the only officer the department lost in the line of duty: TPD will honor Lt. Mark on Wednesday.

A brief memorial will be held Wednesday, Sept. 7, starting at 6 p.m. at Valley View Cemetery, E. 30th Avenue and E. B. Street, Torrington, to honor Mark’s legacy in the community – a legacy TPD Chief Matt Johnson said is important to remember because Mark did so much service in the community and laid the foundation for how TPD operates today.

Mark, 48, was a veteran officer in the department, who was tragically killed on Sept. 6, 1993 while in pursuit of an escaped, dangerous convict from Wyoming Medium Correctional Institute (WMCI) facility, when another law enforcement agency struck his vehicle during the pursuit.

The suspect Mark was pursuing was later found and apprehended a short time later in Nebraska.

In years past, TPD and surviving family members, wife, Joanne Mark and daughters, Tammy Cearns, Wendy Martinez and Dawn Mark have hosted memorials and fundraisers in his name to bring awareness but to also remember the impact of his service to the community.

Mark was deeply involved with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program in Torrington in which community members and former D.A.R.E. participants expressed their gratitude for Mark changing their lives through this community policing program.

Last year, TPD and the family hosted the Harley Mark Memorial D.A.R.E. Golf Tournament to raise funds for the local D.A.R.E. program, however, Chief Johnson said this year will be different and the department has a future fundraising event to be announced at a later date.

“He served our community with integrity and honor – it’s a legacy we need to remember as a community and as it relates to our services currently offered at TPD,” Chief Johnson explained to the Telegram. “The impact Mark had on our community goes beyond words and we owe a great deal of gratitude to him for how TPD is structured and operates today – in which I think honors his legacy within our department and community.”

“We will have an honor color-guard at the brief memorial at his graveside on Wednesday, with a few words spoken just so we as a community can just honor who he was within our community and the lasting impact he had on us,” Johnson added.

On the Officer Down Memorial Page, operated by former law enforcement agencies to track, honor and provide a memorial space for fallen officers, several community members over the years and recently have left messages to Mark.

“Rest in peace always knowing that your service and sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten by your law enforcement brethren,” retired Delaware State Police Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo wrote.

Mark’s brother, Thomas, wrote, “Harley is my brother. We were crushed to get the news. Harley was one of 10 children. We had many brothers that were cops, Dan, Freeman, Harley and Pete. Our father and uncle were also policemen. We all ponder what a great person Harley was. I took Harley for a ride when I was back home between assignments. I took him for a ride through Goshen County and I went over the speed limit. Harley glanced over to see how much I was speeding. He did not hesitate to remind me that one more refraction would get me a refraction from my brother. We miss him every day. He was a great man. He is missed by all that knew him.”

Community member Traci Pleiss wrote, “Harley, I still think of you often and the sacrifice you and your family made. A true hero (my personal hero) is all that comes to mind. We finally have an actual parole hearing this month and I pray we can move toward getting justice for you and peace of mind for all. I hope you’re looking down with pride cause you and several of your law enforcement friends made this happen. You truly are one of the ‘some gave all’, forever grateful.”

Former Scottsbluff police detective, now Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman wrote, “Harley was my friend and a fellow law enforcement officer. We had a lot of fun at some training and shooting competitions, and we worked together fairly regularly. A number of us from Nebraska were close with Harley, former Chief Rock Reeves and recently retired Chief Billy Janes. His death affected all of us, and we will never forget him. Whenever I go to the Torrington golf course, I intentionally drive past Harley Mark's drive, and I tell his story to the people I’m with.”

Mother of another fallen officer in a different agency, Phyllis Loya wrote, “your heroism and service is honored today – your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, Ca. police officer. I pray for the solace of all those who love and miss you for I know both the pain and the pride are forever. Rest in peace.”

Mark’s granddaughter Shelby wrote, “my grandpa.. What can I say? I can’t really say much besides that he was an amazing grandpa from what I hear. I wouldn’t know because I was only six weeks old when all this happened. All I can say is that I love you and I miss you like crazy. I wish you were still here. I love you with all my heart.”

Mark’s daughter Dawn wrote, “My Dad. What can I say about a man that taught me so much, and gave to his family everything he had. My Dad was proud of his grandchildren and his children, and always wanted the best for them. I miss his smile and sense of humor, pounding his glass on the table and telling me it was empty, so I could make another glass of Iced Tea. I wish you were here Dad to see the great people your grandchildren have become. As Matthew sets out on another adventure, Michael working, Dustan working and raising that little girl of his, Heather, Tyler and Shelby are still going to High School and trying to figure out what they want to become. We all miss you and wish we could talk with you. We will see you again someday. Thanks Dad for everything. I love you.”

In 2007, James and Donna Foster told the community, “Harley was a man that we all could be proud of. He came from a family of 10 children. Making his mark early in life. He fell in love with his high school sweetheart. Together they had 3 daughters. He was a great husband and father. Harley served in the Navy and was very proud of that. Harley tried other jobs then decided to become a police officer. In order to serve the people he cared about. He was very protective over children. Harley wanted all children to have a fair chance in life. Outside of his career he took the family arrowhead hunting, a passion passed down from his folks along with the love of fishing. Harley watched a painter on T.V. and said I can do that. So he tried his hand at it and it was great. Harley even taught himself how to play the organ. Harley loved to have BBQs with family and friends. He would make pancakes for breakfast for all. The door was always open to everyone. The last and greatest joys were his children and grandchildren. Not once did Harley waver from holding the law and trying to do what was always right. Harley was such an inspiration to his daughters that one followed in his footsteps. I know if Harley was still here today he would say thanks to the sweetheart that became his wife and stood behind him to the end. We will all remember his kindness, laughter and love for life.”

Mark’s sister, Helen Floyd said, “Harley Mark was everyone’s favorite brother. A good man, a wonderful son and a great father and husband. Loved and admired by all who knew him. He is greatly missed.”

Retired Torrington Ambulance Service EMT Brian Small wrote, “Lt. Harley Mark was a very important and integral part of the law enforcement community in Torrington, WY. He is sorely missed by many. There is never a day that goes by that I do not think of Harley. I was there moments after that crash that took Harley from this world. Harley had dedicated so much energy in apprehending and convicting the escapee that he was pursuing. The escapee was the focus of Harley’s career for the months preceding his conviction. The man escaped from the Goshen County Jail. Harley was going to do “whatever it took” to apprehend this escapee. Unfortunately, Harley paid that ultimate price in that pursuit. Harley, you are missed every day by your family, your friends and your co-workers. Your friend, Brian.”

On the TPD Facebook page of previous memorial announcements for Mark, friends, family and community members also remembered Mark for his service to the community.

This week, old friend Drj Gingles wrote, “Came upon this picture of Harley – I’m pushing 78 and remember Harley well. Great friend.. Hell of a marble player. Have a picture of him busy shooting marbles with Wayne Corral somewhere. Still think I have some of his marbles. Went to school with Harley for 12 long years. Miss the guy much.”

Last year, community member and friend Darrell Ferguson wrote, “truly a great officer and family man. He was full of compassion and respect for everyone he encountered on and off the job. We fished together many days under the river bridge – when I was just 10 he gave me tips and made a lasting impression on me.”

A number of other community members, friends, family and surrounding community law enforcement members remarked how Mark was a “true hero”, “great friend”, “faithful community servant” and “someone, everyone could trust and depend on.”

All attributes of service Chief Johnson says is the legacy he wants Torrington to remember about its only fallen officer.

Mark is the kind of driving force of example we want within our department, for our community and within our community and I am blessed to have known him and work with one of his daughters who works in code enforcement.”

A future Telegram story will cover the memorial on Wednesday and include an interview with friends and family members.


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