Alexandria Police Foundation

Profiles of Courage

Officer Walker W. Campbell, 1919

Officer Walker W. Campbell

Walker W. Campbell was born in Virginia on January 28, 1869, and grew up in Charlottesville. He became an Alexandria police officer on December 1, 1910. He was considered a “brave and efficient officer” and one of the most “trustworthy” in the department.

Officer Campbell was one of ten officers who went on strike in 1918, demanding better pay. Those arrested by Officer Campbell included murderers and robbers, as well as poker players and owners of unmuzzled dogs. For a number of years, his son, William, worked with him, and the younger Campbell would one day become head of the department.

On February 14, 1919, Officer Campbell was working with Officer C.A. Padgett when around 2:15 a.m., they heard a disturbance at the corner of King and Washington streets. A man in a soldier’s uniform had taken a drink from a whiskey flask and then thrown the empty flask into the street. Both officers approached the man and placed him in custody.

They began to walk along the south side of King Street. They were between St. Asaph and Pitt streets when the prisoner, James H. Lawrence, pulled a pistol from his pocket. Both officers struggled with him, but Lawrence broke away from Officer Campbell’s grip. As Officer Padgett attempted to restrain him, Lawrence fired the gun, shooting Officer Campbell in the abdomen. Officer Campbell was taken to Alexandria Hospital where he died of his injuries at 7 p.m. on February 16, 1919.

Lawrence, age 24, had recently been discharged from the army and was working as a special police officer for the railroad at Potomac Yard. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to nine months in jail.

Officer Campbell, age 50, was survived by his wife Annie, and his two sons, William and Clarence. His widow would be the first in Alexandria to receive worker compensation benefits. He is buried at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Alexandria.

 

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