By Bill Robinson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
RICHMOND — Two Kentucky law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year, and their names were added Tuesday to the state’s memorial for fallen officers at the state Department of Criminal Justice Training.
The department is housed on the Eastern Kentucky University campus.
During a ceremony at which Gov. Steve Beshear spoke, the names of six other officers, who were killed on duty between 1884 and 1950, also were added.
Hodgenville Police Officer Mark Taulbee died Sept. 16 when his cruiser crashed during a high-speed pursuit. Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Rakes was shot and killed Nov. 14 during a traffic stop.
Slain officers from earlier years whose names were added included:
• Deputy U.S. Marshal Walter Releigh Killion of Laurel County, 1884
• Thomas D. Martin, Stanford Police, 1931
• Thee Madden, Knott County Sheriff’s Office, 1933
• Vernon C. Snellen, Kentucky Highway Patrol, 1937
• Bill Baker, Perry County Sheriff’s Office, 1950
• George Puckett, Perry County Sheriff’s Office, 1950.
“How wonderful it would be to come here next year with no new names to add,” the governor said. “All of us must do all that we can to keep our officers safe.”
Training, such as that provided by the Department of Criminal Justice Training, and the officers ongoing vigilance are both critical to keeping law enforcement personnel safe, he said.
Increased penalties for those who kill police officers also will help, Beshear said.
Recently, the governor signed into law the Bryan Durman Act – named for the fallen Lexington police officer whose wife spoke at the ceremony.
It will increase security for peace officers and firefighters by toughening the punishment for those responsible for their deaths, Beshear said.
The man convicted of hitting officer Durman with his vehicle and causing his death will be eligible for parole next year, after serving only four years in prison, his wife said.
That is because he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, a non-violent offense, according to Kentucky law. Non-violent offenders are required to serve only one-fifth of their sentences before being parole eligible.
Upon learning of the penalty her husband’s killer will face, Brandy Durman said she contacted state Sen. Alice Kerr of Lexington who sponsored the bill named for officer Durman. It quickly gained passage.
Uniformed officers from across the state attended the annual ceremony.
The people of Kentucky are in debt to those who gave their lives in the line of duty, the governor said, and to those who risk their lives every day for public safety.