A devoted mother to her son and daughter. A terrific athlete and avid fitness buff who was the first and likely the only woman to become a member of the Lacey Police Department's tactical team. A "great patrol partner" who loved her job.
These were some of the descriptions of slain Lakewood police officer Tina Griswold, 40, from friends and colleagues who worked with her when she was starting out as a law enforcement officer in her hometown of Shelton, and later in Lacey.
Griswold’s mother, Geneva DeLong, also gave a brief statement Monday as she fought back tears during a phone interview from her home in Post Falls, Idaho. She said she wants people to pray for the families of all four of the officers who were murdered at a Parkland coffee shop Sunday morning, and for the police on the trail of their alleged killer.
“I’m not out for vengeance,” DeLong said. “That won’t bring my daughter back. Tell all the police officers we love them and to be careful.”
Griswold, a 1987 graduate of Shelton High School, worked as a reserve police officer and as an emergency 911 dispatcher in Mason County before starting her job as a patrol officer for the Shelton Police Department in 1995, said Shelton Police Chief Terry Davenport.
Shelton police officer Harry Heldreth said he remembered that Griswold was short in stature, standing about 4 feet 11, and about 110 pounds. “But she fought as hard as any big man would,” he said. “She wouldn’t back down from any situation.”
Griswold “was a fitness fanatic,” Heldreth added. He said that even as a rookie officer, Griswold would join the other Shelton police officers for workouts at Gold’s Gym in Olympia.
“We’re all going to miss her, anybody that knew her,” Heldreth said.
Said Davenport, “Staff remembers her mainly as being an extremely proactive go-getter.”
Before leaving for the Lacey Police Department in 1999, Griswold worked a stint as a detective in 1996 and 1997, almost unheard of for such a young police officer, Davenport said.
“We hated to see her go to Lacey,” Heldreth added.
In January 1999, Griswold started work with the Lacey Police Department. Lacey Cmdr. John Suessman remembered her as “the cream of the crop” among the candidates recruited to the department.
“There’s stars and there’s superstars, and she was one of them,” Suessman said. Griswold was fun to work with, “hard charging,” and “somebody who’ll look out for you” on the streets, he added.
Griswold was the only female member of Lacey’s now-defunct tactical team – the equivalent of other departments’ SWAT teams. She easily passed the rigorous physical standards required to join, Suessman said.
“She was the only woman I am aware of that was on the team,” he said.
Davenport and Suessman both said there were officers in their departments who worked with Griswold who were having a hard time dealing with her tragic death. Griswold lived in the Lacey area with her husband and a young son. She also has an older daughter who lives in the Olympia area.
“There are some people that work here that are very close to her and are having a hard time,” Suessman said.
Suessman and Davenport both said their hearts go out to the entire Lakewood Police Department and their unimaginable loss of four officers gunned down in one day.
“Losing an officer is probably the worst thing that could ever happen,” Suessman said. “Losing four in one day, it’s not describable.”
Mason County Chief Criminal Deputy Dean Byrd said he remembers working with Griswold when she was in Shelton. “The thing I remember so much about Tina is that she was happy-go-lucky, always willing to help and was always very nice and pleasant to be around. She loved what she did.”
Added Mason County detective Bill Adam, “She was scrappy.”
Heldreth shared one funny anecdote about when Griswold first started as a police officer in Shelton. Because of her short stature, a resident once called 911 while Griswold was on patrol to report that a kid had stolen a Shelton police car.
“She was so small she looked like a kid,” Heldreth said. All of her fellow officers joked with Griswold about the episode, and even promised to buy her a booster seat, Heldreth said.
Griswold took the joking in stride and could give as good as she got, Heldreth added.
“She would joke with the best of them,” Heldreth said. “She’d hold her own.”
In addition to her husband and two children, Griswold leaves behind a sister, Tiffiny Ryan, who works in records at the Spokane Police Department, and a brother who works as a corrections lieutenant in Clallam Bay. Griswold’s parents, Geneva and Stanton DeLong, live in Post Falls. Stanton DeLong was a corrections officer in Shelton before he retired, said Byrd, the Mason County chief criminal deputy.
Geneva DeLong had words for whoever killed her daughter and three other Lakewood police officers.
“I don’t hate him; I’m angry,” she said. “He took away the opportunity to hold my daughter and tell her how much I love her. There were four officers. There are four families, extended families, three communities that he tried to destroy. I ask for you to pray that he will be caught and stopped.”
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465