Name added to fallen officers monument

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 6/1/17

Gale Hobbs points to April 29, 2003, as the first time she lost her husband, Jasper Police Officer James D. Hobbs.

Hobbs, a member of the Jasper Motor Patrol, was struck near the intersection of Viking Drive and Highway 118. He was thrown …

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Name added to fallen officers monument

Posted

Gale Hobbs points to April 29, 2003, as the first time she lost her husband, Jasper Police Officer James D. Hobbs.

Hobbs, a member of the Jasper Motor Patrol, was struck near the intersection of Viking Drive and Highway 118. He was thrown approximately 40 feet from the point where a Cadillac ran a red light and collided with his 1995 police-package Kawasaki motorcycle.

The driver of the Cadillac was charged with driving under the influence.

Hobbs suffered a broken arm, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a traumatic brain injury from which he never recovered.

“I lost the man I knew that day,” Gale Hobbs said on Wednesday following the local Fraternal Order of Police’s annual fallen officers memorial service.

Gale Hobbs, who was working as a dispatcher the night of the collision, lost her husband the second time on Dec. 11, 2014.

His name was recently added to the fallen officers monument on the Walker County Courthouse Square.

“He’s very deserving of having his name on it,” said Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe, who was an advocate of listing Hobbs’ name on the monument.

The last name added to the monument was in 2016. Ben F. Barrett, a Walker County Sheriff's Office deputy, was killed in July 1920 during a dispute over unionism in Carbon Hill.

Hobbs was in law enforcement for 15 years, which included a stint as chief of the Carbon Hill Police Department.

As a result of the collision on April 29, 2003, which occurred almost eight years to the day that Jasper Police Officer Buddy Beasley was killed on his motorcycle, the department’s motorcycle patrol disbanded.

On Wednesday, Gale Hobbs placed a blue rose in her husband’s memory on a wreath that Jasper police officers placed at the fallen officers monument at the conclusion of the ceremony.

“It’s good to see the community come together for the officers and for younger officers to realize that they’re not infallible. I think they think they’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof; they’re not. My husband thought he was,” she said.

Jasper Mayor David O’Mary and Walker County Commission Chairman Jerry Bishop both pledged their support to the local law enforcement community at Wednesday’s ceremony.

“I want you to know that I understand the challenges you face, and I stand ready to do anything I can to make your work safer,” O’Mary said.

Bishop said county leaders also understand the dangers officers face on a daily basis.

“When we hear sirens, David and I worry,” Bishop said.

Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said during the ceremony that he “had never been prouder” of the law enforcement community than he has been in recent years.

“I have personally witnessed situations where law enforcement has rushed into burning buildings, helping people in the road in tragic wrecks trying to save their lives, going into situations where there has just been an armed robbery and we don’t know if the perpetrator is still there. That’s the kind of stuff I see on a daily basis,” Adair said.

Walker County Sheriff Jim Underwood reminded the officers in attendance that they have the support of community members. Underwood cited a Gallup poll released in October 2016 in which 76 percent of Americans said they have “a great deal of respect” for police in their area — close to the record of 77 percent recorded in 1967.

“The past year or two here in our county, they’ve called, written letters, brought us food. They support us big-time in our community,” Underwood said.