Community remembers fallen Spartanburg police officer

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – It’s been a day of mourning as Spartanburg residents and city leaders spent Friday reflecting on the death of police officer Jason Harris.

Even Governor McMaster requested that flags be flown at half-staff from sunup to sundown on Wednesday, April 19th to honor Officer Harris.

People were coming by a growing memorial well into the evening to pay their respects.

“I was devastated you know,” said college student Akon Briggs. “Finding out it was officer j I was like this can’t be true.

He said the ‘Officer J’ he met at a National Night Out event over three years ago has been an inspiration ever since.

“I was like this is cool.. I’ve never really seen an officer on a motorcycle,” Briggs recalled. “He’s one of the best people you’ll ever meet if you could’ve met him. If you didn’t know him you missed out on a lucky one. When I first met him, he welcomed me with open arms and he would always talk to me.”

He said being a Criminal Justice Major, Officer Harris has been a source of motivation.

“One thing that officer J told me and I had asked him, I said why did you want to be a cop and he said ‘If I don’t, who will?’ and that’s just the philosophy that I have now,” he said.

It’s a mindset that’s touched those who say they’ve encountered Officer Harris.

“Very nice person,” recalled Spartanburg Mayor Junie White. He said it was very sad to learn the officer who once covered council meetings is no longer here.  “I went to the funeral home and met his wife today and one of his children. That’s tough on them, little girl is 16. Can’t imagine losing your father at that age.”

A family losing a husband and father, while a community lost one of its protectors.

“Great big smile, just a very nice gentleman,” recalled Crepe Factory co-owner Elaien Hoffman. “Took his job seriously.”

It’s a job that brought Officer Harris inside the Crepe Factory to check in, as he did at places like Delaney’s Irish Pub where a ‘Thin Blue Line’ flag now flies in his honor. Though Officer Harris is gone, his impact lives on.

“It hurts, especially a criminal justice major wanting to be in law enforcement but this motivates me to want to get in instead of getting out,” said Briggs.

The Crepe Factory is donating all tips collected Sunday to Officer Harris’ family.

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