Officer Maurice Phillips, Sr., killed in the line of duty in 1956, was honored during the Dalton Police Department's Public Safety Commission meeting. The May meeting was moved to Tuesday from its regularly scheduled time on the fourth Tuesday of the month in order to accommodate a ceremony marking Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and National Police Week.
Tuesday morning’s ceremony included a procession of police officers up Waugh Street to City Hall escorted by the Dalton Police Department’s Honor Guard and bag piper Michael Whinery from the City of Chattanooga Pipe Band, Inc. Dalton firefighter Gary Stanley from the DFD Honor Guard sang the national anthem at the ceremony. Chief Jason Parker and Public Safety Commission Chairman Bill Weaver addressed the gathering and Mayor David Pennington read a proclamation declaring this week to be Police Week in Dalton.
A special recognition was made in honor of the late Officer Maurice Phillips, Sr. who was killed in an accidental shooting in December, 1956. Chief Parker presented a folded American flag to members of Officer Phillips’ family who were in attendance. Afterwards, the names of all Georgia and regional law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty since last May were read aloud.
National Police Week began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy declared May 15th to be National Peace Officers' Memorial Day, and the week in which the 15th falls to be a week honoring police officers.
Before Tuesday morning’s ceremony, Dalton Police Chief Jason Parker introduced three new officers to the Public Safety Commission. Officers Bart Chandler, Lane Bennett, and Michael Ware were all confirmed by unanimous vote of the PSC at the April meeting but were unable to attend that session.
Officer Chandler is returning for a second tour of duty with the Dalton Police Department, having also worked with the DPD from August 2001 to May 2004 before leaving to work for the Simpson Bridge Company. Chandler also served as a reserve officer with the Cohutta Police Department from January 2010 to March 2013. He also served for five years in the Army. Officer Bennett is a 2001 graduate of Gordon Central High School and served as a firefighter in Gordon County. Officer Ware is a 2008 graduate of Fannin County High School.
Chief Parker reported that the crime rate for April 2013 was nearly identical to the same month in 2012. For the year to date, Part 1 crimes have increased by 5%. Chief Parker reported that while there were slight increases in aggravated assault and theft in April, property crimes have continued to show the most significant rise in Dalton.
Good news came in the area of traffic crashes. While crashes showed an 11% increase compared to April 2012, they’re still down for the year to date by nearly 3%.
The Dalton Public Safety Commission is comprised of Chairman William B. Weaver, Carlos Calderin, Terry Mathis, Keith Whitworth, and Kenneth E. Willis.