National Police Officer Memorial Day to be commemorated locally

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, May 9, 2018

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — The Americus Police Department, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, and the Georgia Southwestern State University Police Department will commemorate National Police Officer Memorial Day with a ceremony at noon, May 15 at the Russell Thomas Public Safety Building.
Americus Police Chief Mark Scott told the Times-Recorder they hope to make this an annual event on the same date each year. He explained that each of the agencies will have a memorial wreath with an Honor Guard member stationed at each one. The names of all fallen officers will be called and hopefully will have a family member come up and place a carnation on the wreath.
Scott said they have a family member of an officer killed in 1907 will be present for the ceremony. Americus Police Officer William R. Morris was killed March 12, 1907. Marc Morris of Cumming, the officer’s great-grandson, is a Republican state representative for District 26.
The families of Nick Smarr and Jody Smith, both killed in the line of duty in December 2016, will be present.
Scott said he has not been able to locate family members of the rest:
• John Kimmey was the first sheriff of Sumter County and the first law enforcement officer to fall in the line of duty. Kimmey was knifed by his political opponent who Kimmey then shot. The sheriff got away and the opponent’s partner chased the Kimmey down and shot him down. Scott said he read this account in the archives of the Americus Times-Recorder.
Scott added that until 2017, Kimmey’s name was not on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington. He said he wrote an account of his death and sent it in and Kimmey’s name will be dedicated this year.
• Americus Police Chief William Cyrus Barrow died in the line of duty on June 27, 1913. He went to serve a warrant, according to Scott, and when the chief walked in the door, the guy was lying in bed and had a gun under the covers, and shot the chief, killing him. A mob broke into the jail, tied up the deputy, went and got tools and broke jail door down and lynched the inmate on Forsyth Street.
• Americus Police Lt. Homer Allen Lee died Feb. 20, 1923. The officer discovered a man and woman in the cemetery at night, and when confronting the man, the two got into a wrestling match, according to Scott, and the man took Lee’s gun and shot and killed him with it.
• Americus Police Officer Mary Ann Barker killed in a traffic accident on May 9, 1983.

The area for the memorial has been spruced up, Scott said. The flower bed has been redone by removing most of the Knockout Roses, and putting in perennials in the area that already has irrigation in it.
Americus Mayor Barry Blount had met with an architect about a new monument to the fallen officers who came up with a proposal, the chief said. The mayor is currently seeking private donations for the monument, according to Scott. The area where the monument will be located, in the right corner of the front of the public safety building, will be paved and landscaped. There will be an eternal flame installed and a marble or granite section wall that will bear the officers’ names.