In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, 40 officers have been killed this year, as of May 10. Each year, there are approximately 60,000 assaults on law enforcement officers, resulting in nearly 16,000 injuries. Throughout U.S. history, over 19,000 law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
There are nine names on a law enforcement memorial in the northwestern lawn at the Limestone County Courthouse.
How the names got there are stories with tragic endings, but they are also stories that remind us there are those willing to protect and serve our community. One officer was transporting blood when injuries from a wreck led to his death. Another attempted to chase his shooter despite sustaining three gunshot wounds, but he collapsed and died.
On Thursday, May 16th at 5 pm, the Athens Police Department held a memorial service at the Limestone Country Law Enforcement Memorial that contains the names of those who died in the line of duty in this country. The service was in recognition of May 12-18 being National Police Week.
The guest speaker was Michele Russell Lopez, the widow of Sgt. Larry Russell, who was one of two officers killed by a gunman in January 2004.
The Athens Police Honor Guard laid a wreath at the memorial.
“This is a way to thank those who are serving and have served, and to remember those who gave their life protecting our community,” Police Chief Floyd Johnson said.
Athens Police are working on a project to further honor those who gave their life in the line of duty. Six of the names on the memorial worked for Athens Police. Russell and Officer Tony Mims both have flag poles and American flags on their grave sites, but the other four officers do not. The department recently held a golf tournament to raise money to buy poles for the other four graves.
“Woodmen of the World donated the four flags to us, and we raised enough money to buy the flag poles, so now we are working on getting the flags on the graves,” Johnson said.
End of Watch for Limestone County
Athens Police Department
Bedford F. Brackeen
End of Watch: March 24, 1941
Brackeen was sitting in a patrol car with his partner at the old bus stop at Clinton Street when a man approached their car and started an argument about a prior incident. The man pulled out a revolver and opened fire. Brackeen exited the car and exchanged shots. Brackeen was shot three times but still attempted to chase the suspect before collapsing. The suspect was arrested near Nashville and convicted of first-degree murder.
End of Watch: Dec. 22, 1964
Daly was on his police motorcycle when a vehicle struck him at U.S. 31 and Forrest Street. He had been with the department for two years.
Lt. Benton McLemore
End of Watch: March 7, 1969
A suspect shot and killed McLemore after the officer responded to the suspect’s house to check on his welfare. The suspect was known to be mentally ill and shot McLemore with a shotgun after the officer knocked on the door. The suspect killed himself before capture.
Dewey Wayne Dorsey Sr.
End of Watch: Feb. 11, 1989
Dorsey died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while transporting blood to Athens-Limestone Hospital. The hospital treated and released Dorsey, but a blood clot developed and killed him.
Sgt. Larry Wayne Russell and officer Tony Mims
End of Watch: Friday, Jan. 2, 2004
The men responded to a 911 call made by a man with a history of mental illness. The man opened fire as each officer pulled into the driveway, killing Mims first and Russell second. The bullets pierced their vehicles and bullet proof vests. The suspect died in prison.
Limestone County Sheriff’s Department
Chief Deputy James Henry Eubank
End of Watch: Thursday, June 13, 1918
A suspect shot and killed Eubank while he searched a house for a weapon.
David E. Temple
End of Watch: Sept. 13, 1979
A man shot and killed Temple after the officer pulled up to him in Limestone County in an attempt to arrest him for a car lot robbery in Decatur. The man leaned out of his car and opened fire on Temple. The man then got out of the car and walked to where Temple lay on the ground and shot him several more times. The suspect fled the scene and led police on a chase through Madison. Police shot and killed him after he wounded another officer.
Simmie L. Jeffries
End of Watch: Friday, Dec. 21, 1984
Jeffries died from an accident when his patrol car collided with a tractor trailer in Limestone County.
By: Hollie Hollman