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State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood honors Tennessee’s fallen officers

State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, today commemorated National Police Week and urged residents of House District 27 to honor and remember law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the family members, friends, and fellow officers they left behind.

The names of 282 officers killed in the line of duty will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. on May 15.

“We rely on the brave men and women in our law enforcement community to keep Tennesseans safe,” Hazlewood said. “It is important that we recognize their sacrifices and honor those officers who are no longer with us.”

Seven fallen officers are from Tennessee and include Sgt. James Russ, Chattanooga Police Dept; Deputy Tucker Blakely, Knox County Sheriff’s Office; Sgt. William Cherry, Macon County Sheriff’s Office; Deputy Shannon Lang Sr., Marion County Police Dept.; Officer Geoffrey Redd, Memphis Police Dept., and Chief Christopher Cummings, Samburg Police Dept. Town Marshal Thomas Neely, Middleton Police Dept. was killed in the line of duty in 1899.

Hazlewood and her Republican colleagues took steps this year to strengthen laws to protect police officers against assault with the Back the Blue Act.

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, offers additional protections that will enhance the penalty for assault against a law enforcement officer from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony punishable by a mandatory minimum 60-day sentence and a $10,000 fine.

“It is essential that members of law enforcement are kept safe while protecting our communities,” Hazlewood said. “I am confident this new law will help accomplish that by increasing the punishment for anyone who assaults an officer. The well-being of every citizen, including first responders, remains a priority in Tennessee.”

In Tennessee, assaulting a first responder, including nurses, firefighters, and emergency services personnel, is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Assault includes knowingly causing bodily injury or knowingly causing offensive physical contact, including spitting, throwing or transferring bodily fluids, human pathogens or waste onto a first responder.

There were 1,603 simple assaults on law enforcement officers last year in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 

Sixty police officers across Tennessee have died in the line of duty since 2019, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a non-profit dedicated to honoring fallen officers across the United States.

State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood represents House District 27, which includes part of Hamilton County.

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