By RALPH BARTHOLDT
Hagadone News Network
COEUR d’ALENE — Wayne Longo repeats the names rapidly.
He doesn’t have to think long about the men and women he has known who have died in uniform during his 37 years as a police officer, and those he knew who have died since.
Longo, a former state trooper, investigations lieutenant and Coeur d’Alene police chief, keeps the names close.
As the nation salutes police week, with officers from across the country attending a Washington, D.C., memorial commemorating the more than 21,000 men and women in law enforcement who have died in the line of duty, Longo’s memory is more regional.
Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore is among the names he recounts.
But there is another one that is intimate, because Longo was there.
He was among the officers who arrested Scott Yager, the man who shot and killed Trooper Linda C. Huff in Coeur d’Alene on a June evening 19 years ago as Longo was heading home after working late.
“We had served a search warrant and I was tired and driving home,” Longo remembers. “I no sooner got home when they called me.”
An officer was down.
“I screamed back and was one of the first ones there and we took Yager into custody,” Longo said.
Huff was dead, lying in the parking lot in back of Idaho State Police District 1 headquarters. Despite having her spinal cord severed with a 9mm bullet and being shot 17 times, Huff had somehow returned fire, striking Yager once in the shoulder and once in the throat.
Yager was later sentenced to life in prison without parole, but the memory of that night still burns for Longo. He revisits it each time he hears of an officer being shot and killed.
Longo was in Montana when an officer in Three Forks, near Bozeman, was killed this week by a gunman.
“It’s like pulling off a scab,” Longo said. “It starts to bleed again.”
And then the second-guessing starts.
“You think, is there something you could have done differently?” Longo said. “It’s a shock. You think of the loss to their family.”
Huff and her husband, also a trooper, had three children. She had served with Idaho State Police for 14 months and was posthumously awarded the Idaho Law Enforcement and Firefighting Medal of Honor — the first one in the state.
Her death at the hands of a gunman was a jolt to local law enforcement and a North Idaho community that felt remote, and isolated enough, to be shielded from the metropolitan problems that included cop killings.
“That was the public sentiment,” said Fred Swanson, a former ISP lieutenant who was the lead investigator in the Huff shooting. “That doesn’t happen here. And it wasn’t a traffic accident gone bad, or something. It was an ambush.”
The shooting was an awakening.
“It really affected a lot of officers, not just ISP,” he said. “This can happen anywhere.”
When Swanson was called out around midnight, June 17, 1998, he drove up to an officer guarding a portion of the road near ISP headquarters where the shooting occurred.
“I asked him what’s going on,” Swanson said. “When he told me, we had tears in both our eyes. I thought, Holy shit!”
Like Huff, the latest North Idaho law enforcement casualty, Sgt. Greg Moore of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, posthumously received the Medal of Honor. Moore was shot and killed May 5, 2015, while patrolling a Coeur d’Alene neighborhood where several burglaries had occurred. His alleged assailant, Jonathan Renfro, is in custody awaiting trial. Moore, who served 14 years, is survived by his wife and two children.
Huff was further memorialized when, in 2008, state police named their District 1 office in her name. The 40,000-square-foot Linda Huff Building on the 600 block of Wilbur Avenue houses patrol, investigations as well as forensics and dispatch.
It serves as a continuing reminder.
“So many people knew Linda,” Longo said. “As we get older, there’s fewer of us who were there when she was.”
But when someone falls next to you, Longo said, the small community of law enforcement takes notice.
“We feel it across the board.”