On Thursday, a line of patrol cars will converge at the Henderson County Courthouse square for the observance of the 2014 Peace Officers Memorial.
The Henderson County Peace Officer’s President Kendell Wellman is inviting the public to join law enforcement personnel and dignitaries as they gather on the northwest corner of the courthouse square at noon.
“This event will honor and pay tribute to Henderson County Peace Officers that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in their sworn duty,” Wellman said.
The guest speaker this year is Stuart Spitzer, recently elected to the Texas Legislature from the 4th District.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week (2014 is May 12 – May 17).
The granite memorial dedicated in 1999 displays the names of Henderson County law officers who have died in the line of duty, as well as officers who have died while members of the HCPOA.
Those who died in the line of duty date back to 1879. Paul Habelt and Tony Ogburn were shot to death as they responded to a disturbance call near Payne Springs on May 17, 2007.
Charlie Fields was shot to death in 1956 after attempting to serve a warrant to take a suspect to a mental institution. When he arrived at the man’s home near Athens, Fields was allegedly ambushed by the suspect and his brother. Both Fields and the brother died in the ensuing gunfire.
In 1973, Larry Hopson and K.C. Winn, working for the Texas Department of Public Safety as troopers, were killed when their vehicle crashed in Navarro County. Hopson and Winn were on their way to the district headquarters in Corsicana.
Four years later, the Athens Police Department lost an officer in the line of duty. Bennie R. Everett was moving a prisoner from his cell when he suffered a fatal kick to the chest.
After extensive research, Terry Baker, Assistant Chief Deputy (retired) of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department informed the county in 2010 that he had discovered the names of officers who died in a stretch between Dec. 23, 1879 to June 17, 1937. They include Rufus H. Day, John E. Rhodes, James Carlie Reeves, James W. Hopson and Elvis Orval Brown.