ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Deputy Gerald Gibson worked so much as a reserve deputy the sheriff let him have his own cruiser to take home.
When he became a full-time deputy, he took his job so seriously he arrested a close family member, and he told his daughter Marcie Begley he would arrest her too if she broke the law.
Begley, who works as a secretary for the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, reminded the large crowd that congregated for Monday’s HCSO Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony that her dad was respected by some and feared by others.
But to his fellow deputies, he was “a brother who would always have your back.”
He was also a beloved husband and father of two daughters, and he paid the ultimate price 17 years ago while protecting the citizens of Hawkins County.
Gibson, a 15-year veteran of the HCSO, was shot and killed the night of July 13, 2000, during a 13-hour standoff with a burglary suspect.
“Even though we hurt and still feel the pain, we can’t forget the price he paid,” Begley said during the ceremony. “Every officer who puts on the badge knows there’s a chance they might not come back home at night. That night happened 17 years ago to my dad.
“I pray for these men and women because it takes a special person to do this job. I know this because I see what they go through every day, and they are the most disrespected people in America.”
Monday evening, Sheriff Ronnie Lawson hosted his department’s fifth annual Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony in Rogersville at the HCSO, honoring not only the three deputies who lost their lives in the line of duty in Hawkins County, but every law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in the U.S. dating back to the earliest records in 1791.
“More officers were slain last year in ambushes than in any other year in more than two decades,” Lawson said during the event. “Today reminds us all of what is at stake. No one asked the men and women to enlist in the righteous cause. They joined because their hearts are big and full of amazing courage.
“They put on the uniform because they believed it was their mission in life to serve. It is our duty as people and as a county and nation to prove worthy of their sacrifice.”
Hawkins County’s two other fallen officers were John Wesley Wright, a reserve deputy, who was accidentally shot and killed by another deputy on Aug. 16, 1988, while assisting with the apprehension of an escaped convict; and Deputy Drew Harrell, who died in 1937 from injuries sustained while attempting to arrest a man for disturbing the peace.
During Monday’s ceremony Lt. Eve Jackson sang the national anthem.
Attorney General Dan Armstrong then read a Hawkins County Commission proclamation declaring May 15-21 as Police Week in Hawkins County.
To close the ceremony, the HCSO Tactical Unit performed a 21-gun salute, and Taps was played by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper James Knipper.
From 2013: Son remembers Hawkins Deputy who was killed in 1937