Memorial to Clifton Rife II

End of Watch: June 2, 2004
Rank: Sergeant   Badge No. S-39
Age: 34   Years of Service: 13 years
Location of Death:  5400 Block of Livingston Terrace, Oxon Hill, MD
Duty Assignment: Major Narcotics Branch

 

Circumstance:

At approximately 4:15 am, on June 2, 2004, officers from the Prince George’s County Police Department responded to the 5400 block of Livingston Terrace in Oxon Hill, MD, where Sergeant Clifton Rife II, an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer, was found suffering from a gunshot wound. Sergeant Rife, assigned to the Department’s Major Narcotics Branch, was apparently shot during a robbery attempt. At some point during the robbery, the sergeant discharged his service weapon and killed the suspect. Sergeant Rife was taken to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Biography:

Sergeant Clifton Rife II, born July 31, 1969, became a member of the Metropolitan Police Department on November 5, 1990. After graduating from the academy, Sergeant Rife began his career in the Seventh District, where he served until being assigned to the Maurice T. Turner Jr., Institute of Police Science on March 28, 2000. Rife left IPS, then returned as a sergeant, until he joined the Major Narcotics Branch, his last assignment, on January 23, 2003. Sergeant Rife’s personnel jacket includes 16 commendations for various actions, including a heroic effort in 1996 where he entered a burning building and suffered smoke inhalation.  Sergeant Rife is survived by his wife, two children, mother and father, and brother.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOOTING DEATH OF SERGEANT CLIFTON RIFE ON JUNE 2, 2004.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 3, 2004, PAGE B1
Gunfight Kills Off-Duty Officer, Youth; Teenager Tried to Rob D.C. Sergeant, Police Say
An off-duty D.C. police officer was shot to death early yesterday in a gunfight with a 16-year-old boy who tried to rob him in Prince George’s County, authorities said. The youth, who officials said had run away from a group home, also was killed.
Sgt. Clifton Rife II, 34, was flown by helicopter to Prince George’s Hospital Center shortly after the 4:10 a.m. shooting in the 5400 block of Livingston Terrace in Oxon Hill. He was pronounced dead a short time later. Police said the youth, Jonathan M. Washington, was dead when officers arrived at the scene.

Authorities said Rife, a 13-year member of the D.C. force, went to the Riverview Terrace apartments and was walking toward a friend’s apartment when Washington, wearing a mask and carrying a pistol, said he was robbing him. They said it was unclear whether Rife said anything in response. The two-exchanged gunfire, with Rife using his service revolver. Rife was shot in the chest and the youth was hit several times in the upper body, authorities said.

“[Rife] managed to tell his friend that he had been shot, and help was called,” said Officer Debbie Sabel, a police spokeswoman.

Washington, who lived with at least one relative at Riverview Terrace, had a juvenile arrest record, said police sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because court records concerning minors are not public. The sources said Washington was charged this year with possession of heroin and was confined to a group home in the District. They said that he ran away from the home in January and that a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Relatives of Washington could not be located for comment yesterday.
Those who knew Rife remembered him as a hardworking officer who did not fear the streets. Assigned to the prostitution unit, Rife was “head and shoulders above any other candidate who applied” for the position, said police Cmdr. Hilton Burton, who had interviewed him for the job.

“He was just a dedicated guy who would do anything,” said Burton, who now runs the 4th Police District.
In the hours before he was killed, Rife was serving subpoenas on his own time and was expected to return to work yesterday morning to attend a training session, said Capt. Mario Patrizio of the narcotics division, which oversees the prostitution unit.

“You got so used to him doing a great job that it just became the standard,” Patrizio said.
Rife’s productivity and seemingly boundless energy were noticed by police brass, said Assistant Chief Alfred J. Broadbent, who added that Rife “was outstanding. He was a cop’s cop.”
Rife, who joined the force in 1990 and was promoted to sergeant four years ago, had a wife and two young children, with whom he lived in Odenton.

Rife was the second D.C. police officer to die this week. On Sunday, Sgt. John S. Ashley, 37, collapsed and died after chasing a runaway dog in Northwest Washington. An autopsy is pending.
Outside the Riverview Terrace apartments yesterday, residents milled about the parking lot. Many said they were sorry that two people had lost their lives, and others described shootings and homicides and robberies, which they said occur frequently in the area. Last week, a pizza deliveryman was shot and seriously wounded. In March, a newborn boy was discovered dead in a plastic bag at Riverview Terrace.

One man stood behind the yellow crime-scene tape and watched as detectives scribbled notes and evidence technicians gathered items into large brown bags. He said that he heard about five shots but that he knew nothing else about the shootings.

“Seems every day there’s something that brings [the media] here,” said the man, who declined to identify himself because he feared becoming a target of violence. “It’s to the point where you can’t walk from your car to your apartment without thinking you’ll get shot or robbed.”

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 16, 2005, PAGE A2
Bush Honors Fallen Officers At Memorial; 156 Remembered, Praised
President Bush paid tribute yesterday to 156 police officers who died in the line of duty last year, as colleagues and families of the fallen gathered under a somber gray sky at the U.S. Capitol for a national day of remembrance.

With the muddy west lawn of the Capitol packed with uniformed men and women from all over the country, the president praised the more than 800,000 Americans who are “willing to stand watch over the rest of us” by policing streets and communities.

“The tradition of sacrifice and service runs strong amongst law enforcement,” Bush said in a short speech. “The fallen officers we honor this afternoon honored that tradition of service and sacrifice — and the flag of the United States of America flies at half- staff today in memory of their courage.”

The president was speaking for the fifth time at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, a tribute to the law enforcement officers who are killed or disabled on the job. Presidents starting with John F. Kennedy have offered tributes to fallen law enforcement officials on May 15, their official day of recognition.

The tone of the day was set by the rain drops falling intermittently and country singer Darryl Worley drawing sturdy men to tears with his song “I Miss My Friend.”

“The bonds between officers are strong — and you look out for each other on sunny mornings and in the shadows of danger,” Bush said. “Your loyalty to one another and your service to America do great honor to our system of justice.”
The president was joined on stage by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), attending the memorial for the first time, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and several other administration officials.

Two D.C. police officers — Sgt. John S. Ashley and Sgt. Clifton Rife II — were among those honored. Rife, 34, was shot and killed by a 16-year-old boy during a robbery attempt June 2 in Oxon Hill. Ashley, 37, collapsed and died of a heart attack a few days earlier while trying to chase down a lost dog in Northwest Washington. Three men from Maryland, Cpl. Duke G. Aaron III, 29, of the Maryland Transportation Authority, Officer Brian Donte Winder, 36, of the Baltimore City Police Department, and Trooper 1st Class Anthony Jones, 50, of the Maryland State Police, were also honored at the event, which drew nearly 10,000 people. No Virginia officers were listed.

“I thank all the family members who are with us today,” Bush said. “Our nation is grateful to you. We pray that you find strength to bear the loss. And you can know that our nation will always remember and honor the ones you loved.”
Afterward, the president spent nearly two hours signing mementos, embracing officers and their families and posing for pictures.

******************************************************************************WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 19, 2005, PAGE T16
Memorial Held for Slain Officers
The District’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1 held its annual memorial service Monday for officers killed in the line of duty, honoring five officers from D.C. and Maryland who died last year.

Honored were: D.C. police Sgt. Clifton Rife II, who was slain in a robbery in Prince George’s County; D.C. Sgt. John S. Ashley, who died of a heart attack while chasing a dog; Baltimore police Officer Brian D. Winder, who was fatally shot, and Maryland State Police Trooper First Class Anthony Jones and Maryland Transportation Police Officer Duke Aaron III, who were killed by motorists in separate incidents.

The ceremony was held next to D.C. police headquarters. Among the speakers were D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey; Sgt. Gregory I. Greene, chairman of the D.C. police labor committee for Lodge 1; and high-ranking officers from other police departments.