Until this week it had been a while since an incident occurred that led to the death of a member of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office. It made me think more about all the others, not just here, but across the nation. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Hinkle is the 21st law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in America since January 1.
In 2018, the total number of officers killed in the line of duty totaled 150, according to the ODMP, which describes itself as a nonprofit organization "dedicated to honoring America's fallen law enforcement heroes. More than 23,000 officers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the United States since 1791 and ODMP is honored to preserve their memories and give friends, family, other officers, and citizens alike the opportunity to remember them and honor their sacrifices."
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.
When the annual memorial rolls around this year in Blountville, there will be a new name to call out: SCSO Sgt. Steve Hinkle. His name will join those of 10 others on a memorial outside the sheriff's office in Blountville.
Here's a list of those who made the ultimate sacrifice from Sullivan County's roster, with information on each as listed on the ODMP webpage:
• The last name added was Deputy Robert Bowlin Sr., 57, who died in 2016 — from complications of injuries he sustained in 2006. Bowlin was investigating a crash on Interstate 81 when a pickup truck drove off the roadway and struck him. He was never able to fully recover from his injuries and he died as a direct result of complications on October 31, 2016. Bowlin had served 19 years.
• Before Bowlin's death, it had been 15 years since Sullivan County lost an officer — and it was two officers at once. Deputy Sheriff Stephen Dwight Riner, 45, and Reserve Deputy Barry Shelton, 40, died in a car wreck while answering a domestic call on September 30, 2001.
• Deputy Steve Mullins, 41, was killed when he was struck by a vehicle on November 22, 1995. The vehicle, reported stolen in another state, was being chased by members of another department. Deputy Mullins pulled his cruiser into the lane of traffic in which the van was traveling to protect the traffic ahead of him. The van crashed into the cruiser, knocking Deputy Mullins into the grill of a wrecker approximately 25 feet away. He was flown to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The 15-year-old driver of the van was charged as an adult and found guilty of felony murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He was released after serving five years.
• Sgt. Roscoe Teague, 56, had a fatal heart attack shortly after being involved in an altercation with two men during a traffic stop. He died on May 30, 1995.
• Deputy Glayton Mitchell Parker, was shot in the face and killed with a high-powered rifle while attempting to serve a misdemeanor warrant on May 31, 1990. The warrant was issued because the suspect failed to show up for a court-ordered mental evaluation. After more than two years of mental evaluations, the suspect was determined to be competent and a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. The conviction and life sentence were reversed two years later. He was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute.
• Sergeant Arthur Carroll Lane, 42, was struck and killed by a vehicle while conducting a roadblock to stop a stolen vehicle on Wadlow Gap Road. The driver of the vehicle struck Sergeant Lane as he stood outside of his patrol car. The juvenile was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison, but released after serving three years.
• Contable Bruce Barker, 29, was shot and killed as he and several officers attempted to apprehend a fugitive from justice near Kingsport. The suspect opened fire on the officers, killing Barker. Other officers returned fire and wounded the suspect, who was arrested a short time later. Patrolman George Frazier of the Kingsport Police Department suffered a fatal heart attack during the shootout. The suspect was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
• Deputy Sheriff Hubert Webb, 25, was shot and killed April 13, 1925 as he and two other officers attempted to arrest a fugitive. The suspect was wanted for murdering Deputy Sheriff Murdock McIntosh of the Greene County Sheriff's Department, on December 24, 1924. One of the other officers, Kingsport Patrolman John Smith, also was shot and killed.
• Special Deputy Lee S. Eldreth, 32, was shot and killed Christmas Day 1907 while attempting to arrest a man who had broken into the post office in Harris, Tennessee. A warrant for the man's arrest was placed in the hands of a regular deputy, who deputized Eldreth to assist him.