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HARRY HARRIS
Oakland Tribune

Current and former members of the Oakland police department, relatives and friends are mourning the death of popular and respected Lt. Derrick Norfleet, who fatally shot himself Wednesday morning at his Vallejo home in what authorities said was a suicide.
Officers of all ranks wore black bands over their badges and many broke into tears upon hearing the news. Retired officers from all over the country called the department and Norfleet's relatives to express their condolences.
Norfleet, 45, who joined the department in 1987 and had been a lieutenant since March 2007, most recently worked as a patrol watch commander in East Oakland, where he was in charge of deploying officers, coordinating crime scene responses and meeting with community members.
Chief of Police Wayne Tucker, who promoted Norfleet, said Thursday his death "is a shock to the department and the citizens of Oakland. He was valuable member of our team and will be missed. Our prayers and thoughts will be with his family."
As he worked his way up the ranks, Norfleet gained respect and admiration in all his assignments, which also included stints in the Criminal Investigation Division.
He also had a deep commitment to other officers and the community. He was a longtime member and past president of the Oakland Black Officers Association and was always willing to offer advice and counseling to other officers. He also helped coordinate many OBOA community-oriented activities, such as taking seniors on Christmas shopping trips.
Lt. James Meeks, one of Norfleet's closest friends, first me him in 1988 when he was a sergeant and Norfleet worked for him as a patrol officer.
"He was a very hard worker, a very popular officer, supervisor and commander."
"He was always helpful and friendly and always had a smile on his face. He had a love for kids and a love for this department. He really cared about this department."
One of those deeply affected by Norfleet's death was well known civil rights attorney John Burris, who became a friend and mentor to Norfleet after representing him in a successful lawsuit against the department after Norfleet working in an undercover role was beaten in July 1988 by other Oakland officers who did not recognize him.
"I loved Derrick," Burris said. "It was a mentor-to-mentee relationship. We talked all the time. He was an all-round good guy.
"They have a lot of good people in the department and he was one of them," Burris continued. "His word was his bond. You could trust him.
"When I represented him, he wanted the jury to believe that he wanted to be a police officer his entire life and hoped his dream was not shattered" because of his lawsuit.
"The experience matured him and it did not keep him from being a very good police officer," Burris added. "He will be missed."
A funeral will be held Aug. 7 but details are still being worked out.

Story From:Oakland Tribune
 
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