BATESVILLE, Miss. — It was an emotional morning in Batesville, Mississippi at the unveiling of a monument dedicated to Panola County’s law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
On a sunny fall morning, the sound of bagpipes echoed through the Batesville Town Square, and the flag at the Panola County Courthouse was raised to half-staff.
There were salutes, tears, and words of respect and gratitude for the men whose names are etched into the monument for fallen Panola County law enforcement officers.
“There are four names on this monument, each one gave their life for the people they served,” said Panola County Sheriff Shane Phelps. “They made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Friday’s dedication comes exactly 34 years after Panola County Deputy Joe Cosby was killed while transporting a prisoner from Tunica County. For his family, the memorial is a reminder of how dangerous the job can be but also brings back memories of better times.
“I miss his laugh. He filled the room with his laugh,” said Cosby’s daughter Pennie. “He always found the good in everybody. There was never anyone that he came in contact with in his job or in life in general that he couldn’t find the good in.”
The memorial bears the names of two officers killed in small Panola County communities, one in Crowder in 1939 and another in Crenshaw in 1989.
The last name on the monument belongs to Constable Raye Hawkins, killed in 2019 when his cruiser was struck by a stolen pickup driven by two juveniles being pursued from a neighboring county.
Hawkins volunteered to attempt to stop the juveniles, an example many say was just the way he was.
Hawkins’ son Wesley is a Batesville PD Captain and was drawn to the job because of his father who was also on the Batesville force.
“Every day’s my memory of my dad in that police department cause I grew up in that police department with him and so I get to remember him every day,” Wesley said.
The monument was built and paid for entirely by volunteers and donations to Panola County CrimeStoppers.
It has been in the planning stages for several years but sidelined due to the pandemic.