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City overwhelmed by offers of assistance after officer's death

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By Linda Ireland

 A month after Hodgenville City Officer Mark Taulbee was killed in the line of duty, support for his co-workers and family continues to pour in from law enforcement agencies across the country.

Taulbee died of injuries sustained in a crash Sept. 16 while in pursuit of a subject. His death left the five-officer department reeling as his co-workers dealt with grief, planning a funeral and attempting to cover the usual work shifts.

Nearby agencies offered whatever assistance that was needed, according to Police Chief Steve Johnson.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the help we’ve had,” Johnson said.

Officers from Kentucky State Police, Elizabethtown City Police and Hardin County Sheriff’s Department stood watch over Taulbee’s body around the clock during the time of visitation and funeral. The watch is a sign of respect for those who have died in the line of duty.

“There may have been others – but I know those three agencies stood guard over him,” Johnson said. “There was no way we could have done it and covered the city too.”

A pair of ECP officers answered calls on the day of Taulbee’s funeral. Other assistance during the funeral came from Hopkinsville and Bowling Green.

“We had offers from Bardstown, Nelson County, Campbellsville – all local police departments volunteered to help,” Johnson said.

ECP provided also two officers on both days of the Lincoln Days Celebration to assist with traffic control.

“Some people thought there was something bad going on (because of the extra officers in town),” Johnson said. “Louisville Metro offered to send officers but we had everything covered.”

Amid the funeral planning, Johnson and Hodgenville Mayor Terry Cruse were barraged by TV cameras from across the state with requests of information and interviews. All the details surrounding the tragedy became overwhelming, Johnson said.

Then, other groups connected to police departments stepped in to help after news of Taulbee’s death spread.

Eric Johnson, executive director of Supporting Heroes, met with City of Hodgenville officials to plan the funeral and offer assistance to Taulbee’s family. Supporting Heroes is an organization that aids families of police, firefighters and EMS workers killed in the line of duty.

“Eric Johnson did a wonderful job of coordinating everything for us,” said Chief Johnson. “It took pressure off me trying to work and do everything else too.”

Eric Johnson arranged also for badges and bracelets honoring Officer Taulbee to be ordered and distributed.

Counselors from Kentucky Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors became available to assist Taulbee’s family, co-workers and the first responders at the scene of the crash.

Johnson said he was proud of the way Hodgenville residents showed support of the officers – and continue to show their support.

“Until all this happened, I didn’t know we had all these great people out there,” said Chief Johnson. “We’re still getting cards and letters from agencies across the United States, sharing stories of losing officers and offering condolences.”

Honoring Officer Taulbee

Cruse said the city is working on an inhouse memorial in Taulbee’s honor. His badge number 137 will be retired “as is customary when something happens.”

Johnson plans to make a shadowbox out of several of Taulbee’s items – badge, shoulder patch, nameplate and collar pins – and present it to family members.