Fallen West Virginia Trooper Weighs On Our Hearts
Our hearts are heavy after the death of West Virginia State Trooper Marshall Bailey, 42. He died in the line of duty last night. Bailey’s partner, Trooper Eric Workman is in a coma and on life support, which means his situation is almost as grave. (EDIT: Tpr. Workman died Friday, Aug. 31.)
The two troopers were in Clay County when they pulled over Luke Baber, 22, for erratic driving. So it should have been just another routine traffic stop. But it wasn’t. Baber shot the two troopers as well as a tow truck driver called to the scene. Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy John Westfall, whom Baber also wounded, is credited with killing, and finally stopping, Baber.
The “thin blue line” is a term used to describe the band of law enforcement that helps keeps us safe and which also protects our freedom. It’s a tight brotherhood that often gets a bad rap, because of a few officers (like Drew Peterson) who choose to break laws themselves. Or who don’t enforce the law when they should.
But for the most part, police officers serve an important role in this and other countries: they serve and protect, and they keep the peace. Their wives and children never know if they will make it home. Last night, Bailey and Workman are two more officers who didn’t.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who put their lives on the line so we don’t have to: they helped me realize it was okay to ask them for help, by showing me they would be there if and when I ever called. They educated me, in a sense, after I went to work at The Preston County Journal. I was assigned to the local police beat, and it’s a beat I continued at almost every paper I worked at after I left the Journal. (I can’t say for sure, but it’s also possible I met Bailey at one of the many police functions I attended as publications editor for the West Virginia Fraternal Order of Police and West Virginia Deputy Sheriffs’ Association.)
Among other things, I hope my book portrays how much these officers mean to me. Because they played a large role in helping me escape my first, very violent marriage. I also hope the next time you hear someone argue about paying too much in taxes, you remember that those taxes pay for law enforcement—and that Bailey died so someone else didn’t have to.
After my first divorce, I ran into the arms of one of these officers, who looked just like a white knight to me. I know from talking to other women that I’m not alone in looking for a man who would protect me from the dangers lurking outside. My second husband happened to work undercover narcotics. So that’s why I know what it feels like to pray you’ll see your loved one walk through the door each night when his shift ends.
Last night, Bailey’s wife, children, and other loved ones are facing just such a reality. I can only imagine their pain. My heart, as must all the hearts in West Virginia, goes out to you.
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Daleen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: According to The State Journal, the public can pay its respect for Tpr. Marshall at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Charleston Civic Center. In addition, the West Virginia Troopers Association has established a fund to help the two men’s families.
Daleen Berry will join a Sept. 16 discussion about the topic of child sex abuse at Webster’s Bookstore in State College, Pa. Berry is the first recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change, for her second book, Lethal Silence, to be published sometime in 2012. Berry speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country.
Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read the first chapter free, please go to Goodreads. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.” To read her award-winning memoir, Sister of Silence, in e-book format (or any other e-book), download a free app from Amazon for your phone, tablet or computer.