By Tamas Mondovics
Sheriff’s deputies and police officers across the state of Tennessee are joining forces with the nation’s law enforcement agencies this week to recognize those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Several events were held across the Eastern District of Tennessee as part of National Police Week, Sunday, May 13 through Saturday, May 19, 2018, to remember such heroes.
Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
Commenting on the FBI’s 2017 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey, Eastern District of Tennessee, emphasized the sad reality of the continued violence against law enforcement.According to statistics collected by the FBI, 93 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2017 – a 21 percent decrease from 2016.“Many of these were firearms related,” Overbey added. “This violence against police officers, as well as the violent acts occurring in our communities, must stop. As the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, I am personally committed to work in partnership with state and local law enforcement to develop strategies that work in our communities and make the streets safer for everyone, including law enforcement.”
The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc, (ODMP) a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America’s fallen law enforcement heroes reported that since 1791 more than 22,000 officers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the United States, “The countless stories of selfless courage and heroism exhibited by officers who lost their lives while serving and protecting the citizens of this great nation are a testament to the dedication of those men and women who wear the badge,” the ODMP stated.
For the first time in the history of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, TBI, the agency has released a comprehensive study detailing law enforcement-related deaths in the state.
“I am very proud of the efforts of all participating law enforcement agencies in the state to provide the data necessary to produce this report,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. Reflecting on the special week, Mountain City Police Chief, Denver Church said, “We appreciate our officers very much as they continue to put their lives on the line to protect and serve.”
Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece stated, “I want to take the opportunity this week to thank all of our law enforcement but especially those in my department here at Johnson County. Being in law enforcement for 38 years, I know personally the physical, emotional and mental demands of the job. Being an officer requires long hours, continuous workload, and many hours away from family. Officers can get called in at any hour and also work extra days to appear in court for the incidents that they have worked. I want to thank all of my officers for the time they put in for the department and this county and they hard work that they do.”
The four officer lost in Johnson County include:
Deputy Sheriff Allen Richard Lipford whose end of watch was on Wednesday, December 11, 1991. Lipford, 28, was shot and killed by a felon as he escaped from the county jail after overpowering two other deputies.
Investigator John Cunningham, 53, suffered a fatal heart attack on Wednesday, January 15, 1986, shortly after completing a required 45-minute physical training exercise at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy. He collapsed in the locker room following the workout. Cunningham served with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department for one year. He was survived by his wife and four children.
Deputy Sheriff Ronnal Ralph Stanley, 24, of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed on Wednesday, August 31, 1983, following a foot pursuit through a wooded area. Deputy Stanley had caught up to the suspect, but during the ensuing struggle the man was able to obtain control of his service weapon and shot him. Deputy Stanley had served with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department for nine months.
Deputy Sheriff Conrad Franklin Bunton, 31, of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, TN, a six-year veteran was shot and killed on Thursday, April 9, 1936, while struggling with a drunk suspect who was brandishing a weapon. During the struggle, Bunton was shot in the abdomen. Bunton had been with the agency for six years and was survived by his wife and seven children.
The ODMP is furthering its mission of honoring all fallen law enforcement officers with the announcement of its newest memorial program: ODMP K9. The program honors the hundreds of police canines that have been killed in the line of duty serving alongside America’s law enforcement officers. These loyal companions have given their lives to ensure their handlers, fellow officers, and citizens stay safe.
The full report can be found on the TBI’s website: www.tn.gov/tbi. For more information about National Police Week, please visit www.policeweek.org.