A Note to Chattanooga Police Officers In The Wake Of A Tragedy In Brainerd - And Response (18)

Saturday, April 2, 2011 - by Sgt. Craig Joel

As a rule, I generally only submit writing to the Chattanoogan on topics that are intensely personal to me. I am very passionate about what I do, and very outspoken about things that I feel are more important than just my future. Having just left the scene of another one of the worst days of my professional life, I think it’s safe to say this meets my criteria for speaking publicly.

I am…absolutely consumed by grief over the death of a humble but fearless man many of us are still trying (and unable) to imagine no longer being in this world…a man many of the people working his crime scene were playing golf with just yesterday at a charity event named for the passing of yet another great officer we lost nearly 10 years past…but at the same time, the mixture of tears shed these last hours are also from the intense pride I feel for the rest of my brothers and sisters out there still doing what we simply refer to as “The Job.”

On a day where everything ended so wrongly, you are doing it right. Tim’s shift is over, but you are still coming in for your own shifts to keep it going, to keep us safe, and you keep doing so regardless of the risks and the grief and what I think of as “the rocks in our shoes” we tolerate from those who wish to make such a simple job of “doing right” so very complicated. You who keep coming back, you make it all worthwhile. I am so proud of you…and so very grateful.

To the businesses whose workers stopped by the actual crime scene and gave us food and water while we worked and stood in disbelief…there are no words that can convey my thanks for your kindness. To the citizen witnesses to this tragedy who, even as I type, are giving their time to put what they saw on the record, thank you too.

And to the ones that were there as this unfolded…thank you so much for doing this Right. No matter how long the nights ahead will be, filled with self-doubt and “what ifs” to the point of exhaustion…know that you did it the Right Way, and the only one to blame is the rotten trash that intentionally killed our friend.

You did it right, and the way it ended is the way it ended. I love you guys, and you are heroes to me and my children. Do you hear me? Heroes. Thank God it was you who were there, or as unlikely as it seems, it could have been worse. Go easy on yourselves; you did it Right.

All the political squabbling, all the details that we preoccupy ourselves with…forget them.

Let’s honor the man that fell, honor the man that survived the bullet that filthy coward put in his back (thank God for you, Haystack), and let’s keep doing what we do best,

Officers: Keep going. We’re “cops”; that’s what we do.

In our darkest hours, we shine so very, very brightly. Thank you all.

Sergeant Craig W. Joel
Chattanooga Police Officer

* * *

Sgt Joel,

We citizens of Chattanooga support you and the rest of the officers who are risking your lives each and every day. The tragedy that happened just a few hours ago reminds us again of the thin blue line that stands between us and chaos.

I never had the priviledge of meeting Sgt. Chapin, but he sounds like a wonderful person, whose life will be celebrated and mourned. My prayers will include his family, friends and fellow officers.

I can hope that our city leaders will add 'many' more officers the caliber of Sgt. Chapin, and find a way to increase both the number of officers and their pay. The recent increase in violent crime shows us that we need rhis more than many other proposed budget items.

Priscilla Jacko

* * *

Well said, Sgt. Joel.

Susan Landis

* * *
"Chapin" as we all called him, was a buddy of mine when I started in the hotel business 12 years ago. I worked on the "Southside" of downtown, and let me tell you, that wasn't necessarily always a nice place to be as a hotel front desk clerk.

Chapin would always drop by and check on me to make sure everything was running smoothly and no trouble was happening. Being that I was just 4'11", 100 pounds soaking wet, and a bit not-too-street-smart, he took me under his wing a bit.

I will always honorably remember Chattanooga Police Sergeant Tim Chapin. What a true gentleman, and a true servant to the community.

You gave your life doing what you knew best. I will dearly miss you. May the Peace and Understanding of the Heavenly Father rest with your family, Chapin.

Heidi Quinton

* * *

I have great respect for the law enforcement officers who risk their lives 24/7. You see, I was reared in a police officer’s home and have never lost my admiration for this special fraternity of public servants, many of whom I grew up knowing in that era.

As I saw two police vehicles hurrying to protect our community Saturday morning, I had no idea what the officers were about to encounter. After learning of the tragedy they had experienced, my thoughts raced to a memory forever etched in my mind.

It was a call my father and his officer partner answered when I was a grammar school student. My dad, Police Detective Claude Knowles, returned to his wife and six children that night; but the colleague he was paired with, Detective Clyde Shipley, never had that opportunity. He was shot dead as he and my father were among the first of many officers to arrive at what proved to be a fateful scene in Lookout Valley.

A person killed Mr. Shipley who never knew of his kind heart or his service to the city of Chattanooga. The killer had no respect for society or civility.

Today, our city mourns the senseless death of Sgt. Tim Chapin, a brave Chattanooga police officer who gave his life Saturday in the line of duty. We should pray for his family left behind and have a sincere appreciation for the sacrifice he gave and for the devotion others continue to give, protecting us while we sleep in confidence behind locked doors.

They deserve our appreciation and 100 percent support.

Bill Knowles
Hamilton County Clerk

* * *

As usual, Sgt. Craig Joel has hit the proverbial "nail on the head".
Everyone associated with the law enforcement and emergency response communities lost a great friend with the senseless murder of Sgt. Jim Chapin. And that's exactly what this was - a senseless murder.

What many readers may not yet realize is they have lost a dedicated community servant and selfless leader in the Chattanooga Police Department, one whose legacy will not be forgotten by the many, many lives he touched. And the number of lives he touched in his 27 years of public service and 51 years of life on earth is truly incalculable.

Sgt. Chapin - you will be missed.
To all the emergency responders in this area - thank you. There's no better group of people I'd rather have "watching my back".

I only wish Sgt. Chapin was still in that wonderful, dedicated group.

Chip Chapman

* * *

To the Men and Women of the Greatest Police Department on Earth:

Words cannot express my sorrow for the loss of Sgt. Tim Chapin. Tim was a friend of mine. I worked with him in the old Adam Sector. He was a great officer.

Yesterday, I was forwarded a message from a 17-year-old girl who plays on my son's soccer team. She had heard the news and sent this to my wife.

"Tears may flow in the night. But joy comes in the morning. I felt secure and said to myself, 'I will never be defeated.'" Psalms 30

Tim is with his Lord now.

Truly, "Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friend."

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Ed Bradley
Retired CPD

* * *

I have known Sgt. Tim Chapin for 27 years and Lorin Johnston for 21 years. These two men use to help me serve warrants on burglary and robbery suspects when I was a detective in the burglary and robbery divsion before I retired in 2000.

Both these men were fearless and they always had my back when we had to go get dangerous criminals. When they got out with someone or they went on a dangerous call I always backed them up. These two men are a credit to their profession and they are a perfect example of what a police officer should be. They are the brave of the brave along with the other officers involved in the armed robbery in progress at the U.S. Money Shops on Saturday.

When I heard about Sgt. Chapin being shot and killed I had to pull my truck off the road and I broke down and cried. Sgt. Chapin was a very close friend of mine and you could not find a better man. He was very dedicated to his family, friends and the Chattanooga Police Department.

When this outlaw Jesse Mathews started shooting at the officers all of you at the scene took the fight back to him, which you are suppose to do. I would have done the same thing. All you guys trained the way you fight and fight the way you train. This was a perfect example of this. All of you involved are heroes.

Like Assistant Chief Mike Williams said when he was over the Chattanooga Police Department Training Division, "Criminals now days will take you on and they are usually armed." This was when I was still at the Chattanooga Police Department.

Tim, you will be sadly missed by all of us. My prayers are with you and your family.
Sgt. Ralph S. Brown Retired Chattanooga Police Department
Flinstone, Ga.

* * *

We all wish that there was a time machine that we could go back and stop all the bad things from taking place, but we can't.

As I try to think of something good that has come out of something so bad, that this officer has gave his life in the line of duty, I come up with one thing and one thing only. He is in heaven.

SFC Rick Mullins
HHD 117th Military Police BN
Athens, Tn.

* * *

This isn't the end of the line for Officer Chapin, because he accepted a free gift in this life. I'm sure those words aren't much consolation for those of you he left behind, but it's true.

1 Thessalonians 4:13:
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

1 Corinthians 15:54-55:
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Rest in the Lord Sgt. Chapin, you have something no man can take. A life that is eternal.

Johnny Hurst

* * *

I don't remember meeting Sgt. Chapin, but I meet and work with many Officers of the Chattanooga Police Dept. everyday. I count myself blessed to work with them and my coworkers all, as they are among the most professional group of people I have ever worked with. I have read about Sgt. Chapin and the legacy he has left behind, and I think, "Wow that's the legacy I want to leave behind."

In a day where we have very few mentors that we want our children and grandchildren to see and be like I just really have to repeat wow. Not only a brave police officer, a soldier in the Lord's army. I was thinking about a fitting verse in the Bible, and I saw John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this,that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I can tell from the words spoken he will be missed but died doing what he loved to do serving and protecting the people and citizens of the city of Chattanooga. I also don't doubt that any of the officers on the scene would have hesitated in paying the ultimate price to protect each other or any other individual in danger. Pray for them all daily.

Phil Dyar Sr.

* * *

I already miss Tim Chapin's smile. I remember back in the late eighty's around 2 a.m. I backed up Sgt. Chapin on a D.U.I. stop. The driver was very unruly and took Tim's calm and humble demeanor as weakness. I'll never forget how fast that guy sobered up when he learned very quickly how strong Sgt. Chapin was while being cuffed. It was a thing of beauty.
I miss Tim Chapin.

Michael Burns 597
Ooltewah Tn.

* * *

I heard a Siren for the first time today
I heard a Siren for the first time today
What made it different were my thoughts have changed
Over my life it was always the same, someone had an accident, committed a crime, or need help in someway
It’s as if my eyes were opened, as I heard them say
“The man in blue died today.”

I heard a Siren for the first time today
Never will I hear it, in quite the same way
For when the sound pierces the air
My attention turns to offer a prayer
To protect the man answering a plea
From another asking please come to me
My thoughts are for his safety, and family I pray.
I heard a Siren for the first time today.

Dedicated to the memory of Sergeant Timothy Chapin, Chattanooga Police Department who died in service on April 2, 2011, God truly blessed us with your presence.

Richard Cox

* * *

I remember Sgt. Chapin very well. I first met him in about November of 1985 as I was attending the Chattanooga Police Academy with Tim's sister, Lisa, who, the last I heard, was currently serving with the Chattanooga Fire Department. Although at that time, he was a new officer in the Department, Tim carried himself as though being a police officer was the greatest thing in the world to him. He was sharp, proud and carried himself with confidence and dignity.

I remember his sister beaming with joy when Tim would come to watch us practice our physical restraint techniques in the gym. She was obviously very proud of him and likewise him of her. Tim would grimace when Lisa would take a bruising hit from a training baton, but smile when she would respond equally with a strike of her own.

It is tragic that our public servants and many times our brave citizens, must give their lives so that we may keep ours for a little longer. During the time we have left, we need to praise God every chance we get for providing us with public servants and citizens who sacrifice so much so we can live a more free, more safe and longer life.

May God bless the family of Sgt Tim Chapin.

Eddie McAfee
East Ridge

* * *

When we convict someone for a felony and then turn them loose before their sentence is complete; we take the chance of returning to society someone who has shown his or her disregard for the law or civility. It is true that someone may serve their whole sentence and still return to a life of crime.

While they were imprisoned however, no one was being victimized by them. Everyone who thinks that in courtrooms we should err on the side of forgiveness and second chances; take a good look at the unnecessary pain and suffering thrust upon our community.

Richard Donham

* * *

It is a shame that our judicial system fails us more and more everyday, and because of it senseless acts of violence are costing people their lives. It is a shame that instead of punishing people that commit these crimes we instead enable them to continue. It is a shame that our veterans and soldiers can’t get the care and medical attention they need, but yet these “thugs” receive free health insurance and other government assistance. It is a shame that America spends more on a prisoners’ keep than a child’s education, and then we wonder why our children are becoming they way they are. It is a shame that it takes an officer being killed in the line of duty for a community to see the risk of that job every day.

Not only police officers, but all emergency personnel need the support of their communities, local and state governments everyday. These are brave men and women, paid and volunteer; that leave their families, their warm beds to go out in harms way to keep you and your family safe. Start supporting them, instead of criticizing every move they make…if the job is so easy to do, then you do it. It is time for the judicial system to start holding people accountable for the crimes they commit and stop with the little swat on the hand; it is time for the media to quit glorifying these act and bring the attention to the men and women trying to stop these acts.

I pray that God holds the family of Sgt. Tim Chapin close and gives them comfort and peace in this indescribable time of grief; I pray for the men and women of the police department in the loss of a brother, I pray for the community to open their eyes and see that it is time to stand behind these brave men and women, I pray for all those involved because this was a senseless act that leaves a lot of questions.

When a tragedy happens, like Saturday’s event…it no longer matters if you are a police officer, a firefighter, an EMT, or just a citizen…you all become one, mourning the loss of a man that was “just doing his job” and paid the ultimate sacrifice. May you rest in peace and watch over us from above Sgt. Chapin.

Ashley DeSha

* * *

I want to say to Tim’s family that our hearts are grieving and our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Tim died heroically doing what his profession requires of some who are called to act in those type of moments. That speaks volumes to police officers and thankfully to the citizens of Chattanooga. I was told my someone that her daughter had seen some officers and wanted to go over to them and offer her condolences about the loss of Tim, but she was unsure if she should or not. I have received condolences from numerous people and of course appreciated every one. If you see a Chattanooga Police Officer (or any Police Officer as we are all brothers/sisters) and wish to offer your condolences please do so. I know it is comforting to me. Please remember the family in this tragic time.
Tim, you are truly missed.
Sergeant Mark Haskins
Chattanooga Police Department

* * *

Give credit where credit is due. I remember watching WRCB 3 on the day of the tragic shooting. I recorded WTVC 9.

Channel 3 (Melydia Clewell ) did a great job and her compassion as usual poured through the TV screen. She agreed to Chief Dodd's request to withhold the officer's names so the chief could notify all his officers first.

Then I watched Channel 9 and they were airing the officer's names and showing their pictures.

Class act versus a tabloid.

Channel 3 won me over during their coverage of the Tonya Craft trial ala Melydia Clewell and with the professionalism displayed April 2 my news fix will stay with WRCB.

Michael Burns

* * *

To all police officers...I am sorry for your loss.

Now that I've got that down in print and review it...those words don't scratch the surface.

I was fortunate enough to be raised to respect the law (actually to respect everyone), to obey the rules and regulations and frankly I doubt seriously you could do anything to me worse than what Dad would have done had I ever done anything bad enough to have to get him involved. When Mom would say "wait till your Dad gets home" we used to beg her to beat us but "please don't tell Dad." That was then, this is now...different times and it appears different people.

We always take things for granted, we always think the sun is going to come up tomorrow, that we'll flip that switch and the lights will magically come on, we'll always have food on the table and yes, we'll see our loved ones in the morning. Most of us don't take the time or the trouble to learn what our neighbor does, some of us don't even know our neighbors names. I was that way until an evening that really changed my life.

I had decided to work a different schedule that would require me to come home after midnight so I grabbed a flashlight because the porch light was out. Off I went and when I returned there was a strange car parked at the end of my home (the road dead ends there) and it was so dark you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. I was afraid poachers were out in the field so put my lights on bright and wrote the license number down. I didn't see anyone around and debated what to do. I was afraid, really afraid but I needed to get into the house to get to a phone. When I stepped out of the car I heard a man cough and ran faster than I thought humanely possible, threw open the door, slammed it shut and called the police. Within two minutes tops a car pulled in and I watched out the window while the officer who was alone approached the car.

I could not imagine doing that job, I tried hard to "feel" what that officer must have felt. Not knowing who may or may not have been in the car, how many others might be around, I was afraid for him. I knew that he couldn't just leave even though he must have thought about it. That's what he got paid to do, protect me, someone he didn't know, couldn't see and probably wouldn't see again.

I'll cut this short and say that the officer took care of the problem, protected me and went on to probably do the same thing over and over again until his shift ended. He continued to put himself in harms way because that was what he signed on to do and I'm certain it wasn't because of the money.

A few weeks later I had the privilege of meeting Sheriff Gobble and I thanked him for having such a great department and shared my story with him. He was grateful to hear something positive, thanked me and gave me some personal advice which I took. A few months later I was standing in the dreaded pharmacy line waiting to get a script filled and a city officer came in and got into the rear of the line. I was in the front, next would be me. I turned to the officer and asked him to take my place, I was in no hurry and he politely said he didn't think the others would appreciate that. Not one person spoke up, not one.

To those of you that think our protectors should stand at the back of those lines, wake up. Why does it take a tragedy like this for you to suddenly see the job that these brave men and women do on a daily basis? Believe me you do not want to be put in a position to thank God that they have come to your rescue because it will be in that instant you will realize how truly blessed you are that someone will stand between you and the danger.

To the men and women who serve and protect....thank you.

Sue White

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