Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 19, 2013

Tazewell ceremony honors ‘true Va. heroes’

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — Family members of fallen officers leaned on each other for support as a bagpiper played the final notes of “Amazing Grace” at the gym on the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office property Saturday.

Officers from across the Commonwealth gathered with members of the community and families to honor nine Tazewell County law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty since 1891. The tribute was specially dedicated to the family and memory of Trooper Andrew Fox who lost his life in the line of duty on Oct. 5, 2012.

Members of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department made presentations to Fox’s family as well as the families of Deputy Thomas “Tom” Reid and Deputy Shawnell “Shawn” Hess, both of whom lost their lives in 2010. The ceremony also honored two deputies from neighboring Buchanan County — Cameron Justus and William Stiltner — were both killed in the line of duty in 2011.

In addition to members of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, representatives from the town of Tazewell Police Department, Richlands Police Department, Pocahontas Police Department, Bluefield, Va., Police Department, Virginia State Police, Christiansburg Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, and others attended the ceremony.

Col. W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, praised both Fox and his family for their service to the Commonwealth as well as the Tazewell community for their support of the Fox family.

He also spoke directly to Ginny Fox and thanked her for her husband’s service.

“Your perseverance and faith through all this has been an inspiration to the whole state police family,” Flaherty said. “We are so thankful for you. The entire Commonwealth of Virginia is a better place because of Andrew Fox. This is a way of thanking you for sharing your loved one with us. You do not walk this path alone. We walk it with you.”

Flaherty said Fox was an example of what all law enforcement officers should strive to be.

“No one gets into law enforcement for the work, the hours or the clientele,” he said. “Police work requires a person of character, dignity and quality. They serve no matter how routine, insignificant or minor the incident.”

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker also spoke at the ceremony to thank all of the assembled officers for their service.

“It takes a very special person to be a law enforcement officer,” Decker said. “Each and every one we lose is special in their own way. It is not just anyone who takes up  that badge and gun and risks their life for people they don’t even know. They are individuals who care about more than themselves. They are people who give of themselves to others. They are our true Virginia heroes.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com