In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. It was then established as ongoing observance by a joint resolution of Congress.
National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This year National Police Week is the week of May 11-17. In Anson County it will be recognized on May 14 at noon in Superior Courtroom Number One. The ceremony is open to the public.
On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 58 hours. In 2013, 111 officers died. A slight (8 percent) decrease from the year before. So far in 2014, 39 officers have died, an 18 percent increase from 2013. Since the first known line of duty death in 1791, more than 20,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made that ultimate sacrifice.
In Anson County, eight officers have died in the line of duty; first in 1910 and the last in 2004.
The following is a list of those eight officers and the circumstances surrounding their deaths. This is a time to stop and reflect the dangers, sacrifices and challenges law enforcement face each day to protect and service the citizens of Anson County, North Carolina and this great nation of ours.
Anson County officers who died in the line of duty:
1. James Marion Sings. On July 20, 1910 Officer Sings was a policeman in McFarlan when he went to serve a warrant on an individual in a railroad work camp. He had no problem arresting that individual, but was confronted by a second person demanding he release his prisoner. Officer Sings did not release his prisoner and was shot three times, mortally wounded and died a few hours later. Newspaper records of the event are incomplete and it is unclear if the suspect was eventually captured and tried.
2. Mattie George Faulkner. On Jan. 16, 1926, Faulkner was a Constable in the Peachland area, when he went on a raid of a liquor still. During the raid, several suspects fled the scene and Constable Faulkner was shot and killed by one of the bootleggers during the foot chase. Two suspects were eventually captured, tried and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
3. George I. Thompson. Trooper Thompson graduated from the first N.C. Highway Patrol School on July 1, 1929. On July 2, 1929, Trooper Thompson was on his way to his assigned post, riding a state issued motorcycle. While passing through Anson County, a pickup truck driven by a 13-year-old boy from Albemarle, ran a stop sign, striking the motorcycle and killing Trooper Thompson. Trooper Thompson was the first N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper killed in the line of duty.
4. Selby Harney Sr. On Aug. 31, 1973, Deputy Sheriff Harney, along with other deputies, responded to a call off Highway 109 south, near the S.C. line, where a mentally ill subject was shooting at passing motorists. Officers staged in and around the scene and were subsequently able to talk the shooter into surrendering. Officers noticed Deputy Harney on the ground and unresponsive. He was immediately rushed to the local hospital, but was pronounced dead of an apparent heart attack.
5. Gilbert Dean. On Feb. 12, 1977, Chief Deputy Gilbert Dean had responded with other deputies to a disturbance call where an individual was drunk and disorderly. A scuffle ensued in attempting to arrest the suspect. Shortly after the suspect was subdued and in custody, Deputy Dean collapsed and was rushed to the local hospital, but was pronounced dead of an apparent heart attack.
6. William Kress Horne. On Dec. 22, 1984, Deputy Horne responded to a call where an individual was shooting in the neighborhood. Horne, along with another officer, talked to the individual through his front door but he refused to come outside. While officers were waiting for other assistance, and standing behind their patrol vehicles as shields, the suspect fired one shot from inside the residence with a shotgun, striking Deputy Horne in the face and head. He was rushed to the local hospital but died of his injuries the next morning. Suspect was subsequently arrested by deputies, tried and later died in prison.
7. Jesse Lee Pratt. Chief Deputy Jesse Pratt was on his way to work early one morning on Sept.14, 2001. He was killed in an automobile accident, when his sheriff’s vehicle was struck by another vehicle.
8. Josh W. Oliver. SHP Trooper Oliver died on March 24, 2004, as the results of injuries received in an automobile accident that occurred in Anson County 18 months earlier. Trooper Oliver’s vehicle struck a bridge abutment, while he was responding to a call during a rain storm.