Chairman Eric Watson, Secretary of State Tre’ Hargett, State Comptroller Justin Wilson, State Treasurer David Lillard, and the legislative staff, gathered to honor the State Troopers and Capitol Police for their service.
Each year, a charity is chosen as a way to give back to the law enforcement community. This year, Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S., was chosen as the recipient. Alicia Larkin, widow of Trooper Todd Larkin, was on hand to receive the check from state Rep. Eric Watson. Rep. Watson expressed his appreciation to the troopers, capitol police, and to the organization for giving back to the law enforcement community. Trooper Todd Larkin was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while conducting a vehicle stop. Mr. Larkin stopped a vehicle on Interstate 40 in Dickson County, about 40 miles outside of Nashville. As he was conducting the vehicle stop, a tractor-trailer veered off the roadway. He was struck and killed instantly. The driver of the tractor trailer was charged with vehicular homicide. He was sentenced to three years probation, one year loss of license, and a $50 fine. Trooper Larkin had served with the Tennessee Highway Patrol for five years.
The "Move Over Law," which passed in 2006, is a part of the "Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicles Law" and requires motorists to move over into the adjacent lane of traffic, when safe to do so, or alternatively to slow down for emergency vehicles. In 2011, the law was expanded to include utility service equipment to the list of vehicles for which motorists are required to either slow down or move over. Watson noted that the loss of law enforcement lives, as a result of the law, has decreased, but that for the survivors, they are daily faced with more than the life that was lost.
Tennessee was the 30th state to establish a move over law which creates a safety zone to protect police, firefighters, other emergency personnel, and utility workers. The penalty for violating the "Move Over Law" in Tennessee is a maximum fine of up to $500 and possibly up to 30 days in jail. The "Move Over" campaign was created to raise awareness of the move over law, and protect state troopers and others whose workplace is often the side of a busy highway.
Trina Scott, the South Central Region trustee, said “C.O.P.S. is more than an organization to me, it's my family. Ms. Scott is the widow of police officer David Scott. He was killed in the line of duty on June 7, 2002. Officer Scott and a police rookie he was mentoring, Yamil Baez-Santiago, 23, were in one of two police cruisers that were involved in a high-speed chase of an armed robbery suspect in Clarksville, Tn. As the suspect evaded another car, Officer Scott, who was driving, collided with an oncoming pickup truck. The truck struck the cruiser's gasoline tank, which exploded into flames. Officers in the second cruiser were unable to pull Mr. Scott or Mr. Baez-Santiago from their car.
"With over 15,000 survivors, losing between 130-150 law enforcement officers a year, we are one of our countries largest peer support group. We cover survivors to include spouses, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, significant others/fiancé, and affected co-worker. C.O.P.S. has saved the lives of many, such as me and my family, who say we don't know what we would have done without C.O.P.S. They are a life line for some many and I'm so glad it's a part of my life. Our motto has become "Hope Starts Here." Hope started with C.O.P.S. and C.O.P.S. gave me hope."
More information about the organization can be found on their website http://www.nationalcops.org/.