Both Williamson County and Metro Nashville's law enforcement collectives held memorials for their fallen colleagues this week.
Williamson County recognizes fallen members of law enforcement
Law enforcement agencies from across Williamson County and Middle Tennessee gathered at the Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church on Monday evening for the annual law enforcement memorial service.
The event drew dozens of community members including family members of some of the county’s seven law enforcement officials who have died in the line of duty since 1919.
The memorial specifically remembered Williamson County Sheriff Milton Harvey Stephens (1843-1919), Constable Samuel Claybrooks Locke (1873-1925), Constable Andrew Mattison Sullivan (1887-1933), Constable Clarence Wesley Reed (1887-1944), Deputy Sheriff John Morris Heithcock (1940-1972), Spring Hill Corporal Jeremy Caleb McLaren (1981-2010) and Brentwood Police Officer Destin Scott Legieza (1989-2020).
Morris Heithcock Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 41 President Andy Green also acknowledging the recent death of Franklin Police Officer Jeff Carson in March.
Sitting Williamson County Sheriff Dusty Rhoades gave the keynote address to the crowd of uniformed officers, deputies, state troopers and civilians who filled the wooden pews bathed in the diffused, golden evening light that passed through stained glass.
“Sometimes this job can feel like a thankless job, but I feel like in Williamson County the people love us and we’re in good hands with our citizens,” Rhoades said. “Brothers and sisters, our [low] crime in the community is a testament to the job that you do. I want you to know that you are loved and appreciated and needed more than you’ll ever know.”
Rhoades also spoke about the nationwide challenge of hiring and retaining law enforcement officials, something that he said was crucial to remedying as the county and region experiences explosive growth.
“The bottom line is this, it’s getting harder to fill our extremely important shoes,” Rhoades said. “Brothers and sisters, if we want to preserve this wonderful way of life in our community for our families, we need to find a solution. The solution may be closer than we think. The most powerful tool in recruiting is us ourselves. It’s the relationship that we build with the community that inspires the next generation of law enforcement officers.”
A procession of memorial attendees then walked the nearly quarter mile to the square passing under a large American flag hung across Main Street by two Franklin Fire Department ladder trucks as the Metro Nashville Police Department Pipe Corps performed “Amazing Grace.”
One of those walking in the procession was BPD Assistant Police Chief Jim Colvin who honored all of Williamson County's fallen first responders, especially Officer Destin Legieza.
"When you work in a profession that operates 24-hours a day, it can be difficult to stop and reflect on the past," Colvin said in an email. "Law enforcement memorial services provide us with the opportunity to dedicate our thoughts to the officers we have lost. Personally, it’s comforting to be surrounded by families and officers who understand one another’s pain. We will continue to honor Destin’s sacrifice through our relationship with his family and our service to the citizens of Brentwood."
The memorial concluded with a closing prayer, 21 gun salute, the playing of “taps” and the ceremonial end of watch which announced the fallen officers over first responder radio channel. Their names echoed off of the buildings on the square which had otherwise fallen silent as onlookers who were shopping or dining stopped to pay their respects.
Metro Nashville honors fallen law enforcement members
On Tuesday, the Metro Nashville Police Department and the Andrew Jackson Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police held their own memorial service at Nashville’s First Baptist Church, followed by the state memorial which saw hundreds of people gather at Legislative Plaza.
The state memorial featured several Williamson County law enforcement officials and remarks by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Franklin resident, who called law enforcement “the thin line between order and chaos.”
View the entire MNPD memorial below courtesy of News Channel 5.
View the entire state memorial below courtesy of News 4 WSMV Nashville.