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Officer Trent

Paul Andrew Trent

End of Watch:
November 23, 1941

Just before noon on Saturday, November 23, 1941, Tacoma Police Officers Paul Trent and Martin Joyce were dispatched in the Paddy Wagon to a suicide call in Tacoma’s north end.  The Officers, both nine-year veterans, responded northbound on Pacific Avenue and requested "the lights" from the dispatcher.  This system allowed the dispatcher to regulate four-way red traffic signals at major intersections to allow emergency vehicles to pass through safely.


At the same time, Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs Arthur Varco and Lawrence Bunce were dispatched to an injury auto accident on River Road.  The Deputies also requested the lights as they responded eastbound on South 11th Street in their Paddy Wagon, but they apparently did not hear the broadcast of the Tacoma Officers' call.


In a tragic coincidence, both police wagons arrived at the intersection of South 11th Street and Pacific Avenue at the same time.  Both drivers apparently assumed the red traffic lights were for their right-of-way.  Neither could hear the other over the sounds of their sirens, and the two wagons collided.  Officer Trent died at the scene and Officer Joyce died two days later of his injuries.


Officer Paul Trent joined the Tacoma Police Department May 16, 1932 and served in the Patrol Division.  He was survived by his wife Dorothy.


Gone But Not Forgotten