It took 60 seconds from a bugle playing the classic Taps to bring some of Henderson County near tears.
“Sergeant Larry Cottingham,” says Lt. Jason Hargitt, “end of watch, Monday, January 3, 2005.”
The uniforms may vary. Brown, black, blue, or gray. No matter what badge is on the shoulder, they all feel the pain of losing one.
Hargitt goes on, “Austin Eguine Vanover Senior, end of watch, August 13, 1958.”
The names continue, six times for officers lost in Henderson. “Officer J.A. Tony West.”
Four months into the year, 44 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty across the country. At home, police remember fallen officers who put their lives on the line in a world, they say, is growing more hostile by the day.
Since 1791, there have been almost 23,000 officers die in line of duty in America. Kentucky has seen almost 800. Fortunately, numbers are much smaller across the Tri-State, but that doesn’t make loss any easier.
The feeling for a fallen brother or sister is the same. Just ask Capt. Bob Schultz, who took a new post in Kentucky State Police two years ago.
“Little did I know that was the telltale sign of things to come,” he says. One of his first nights on the job, the phone rings. “I didn’t realize it but I was getting ready for a pretty rough ride.”
KSP hadn’t had a trooper die in the line of duty for eight and a half years. But in the summer of 2015, that all changed.
“One of my guys had an accident and he’s 10-7,” Schultz adds, “well in our world that means he’s dead.”
An accident in Western Kentucky killed Trooper Eric Chrisman, and changed the life of Capt. Schultz who still wonders, what if his brother was alone on the road that night.
Schultz pauses in front of the crowd of dozens on the top floor of the Old Courthouse. “There was a semi in that opposite lane and he hit it as square as you can hit it in the driver’s side.”
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department has lost 3 deputies in its history. Henderson Police has lost 2 officers. Admittedly small numbers over the course of time, but still, five too many.
State Representative Robby Mills thanked the officers. “It’s a daunting task every day, you get up, you put the badge on and get calls and you don’t know what’s at the end of that call.”
Outside the Old Courthouse near central park stands a monument with the names of those Henderson officers, always remembered.
“It’s an amazing, heroic thing you guys do,” says Mills.