Rep. Kevin Raper honors Tennessee’s fallen officers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Rep. Kevin Raper, R-Cleveland, today commemorated National Police Week and urged Bradley County residents 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, D.C., on May 15.

“Police officers who give their lives in the line of duty deserve our heartfelt respect and appreciation,” Raper said. “It’s an honor to be able to pay homage to these officers during National Police Week, and I encourage all Tennesseans to do the same. Law enforcement officers need our continued support and encouragement.”

Seven of the fallen officers being added to the memorial 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.

Raper and his 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.

“The Back the Blue Act shows that Tennessee cares about the safety of law enforcement,” Raper said. “I was honored to vote in favor of this legislation.”

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. Kevin Raper represents House District 24, which includes part of Bradley County. He is vice chairman of the Education Instruction Committee and also serves on the Local Government Committee, Education Instruction Subcommittee and the Property and Planning Subcommittee.

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