Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Tracy Trott led a special memorial service Friday to honor Tennessee state troopers and other law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. In observance of National Police Week, the THP’s annual Memorial Service was held at the department’s headquarters in Nashville.
Since the establishment of the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 1929, 41 troopers have died in the line of duty.
Trooper Ronnie Hale died on July 6, 2012 in while on duty in White County in the Cookeville District. Trooper Hale suffered a heart attack in his patrol car. Trooper Hale died while being transported to the hospital by emergency medical personnel.
Trooper Michael Slagle died Jan. 25, while on duty in Knox County in the Knoxville District. Trooper Slagle died from what appears to have been natural causes after he crashed on an icy road. He was discovered unresponsive and was unable to be revived at the scene.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 40 officers have died in the line of duty this year, including Trooper Slagle from Tennessee.
“These men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice. They are in our thoughts and prayers every day. We can never repay their families for their service to our state and to our country, but we can honor them and promise to never forget their sacrifice,” Commissioner Gibbons said.
Major General Terry M. "Max" Haston, Tennessee’s Adjunct General, delivered the keynote address. General Haston, oversees the state’s Department of Military, including the Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Air National Guard.
“From the start, there has always been a kindred spirit between the Military Department and the State Troopers, as both our members work closely together in numerous scenarios. We have the same mission, to serve and protect the citizens of the state of Tennessee,” General Haston said.
The ceremony featured several time-honored traditions including the roll call of all 41 fallen troopers. Commissioner Gibbons, Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin and Colonel Trott also rested three wreaths in front of the THP memorial monument outside the department’s headquarters. Other highlights included the presentation of colors by the Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard, a rifle salute and flyover by THP’s Special Operations Unit, the playing of “Taps” by Trooper James Knipper on trumpet, and “Amazing Grace” performed on the bagpipe by Todd Boswell.
“We have added two more names to the THP memorial this year. These public servants, and the troopers who have passed before them, leave a legacy of bravery and honor in the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Each year we remember their service and their sacrifice, and that makes us all want to be better troopers,” Colonel Trott said
Earlier this week, Colonel Trott took part in the national ceremonies marking National Police Week in Washington, D.C.