Ralph Chapin always knew the risk of working as a law enforcement officer.
“I knew I might never survive,” Chapin said. “I did. Praise the Lord.”
Instead, his son, who also chose to be a police officer, died in the line of duty.
“You might say he was born into a family of service,” said Chapin, a former deputy chief with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and currently the mayor of Powells Crossroads, Tenn.
It still pained him Tuesday afternoon as he accepted an Officer of the Year award from the Chattanooga Exchange Club on behalf of his late son, Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin. Chapin was honored after he was killed in the line of duty while responding to a robbery call on April 2 at U.S. Money Shops in Brainerd.
“It’s a shame he had to die to get it. He’s always shunned glory,” Ralph Chapin said after talking with other officers. “He wanted to be on the street with his men.”
Jesse Mathews, 25, who was clad in bulletproof vests, fired upon officers and is charged in connection with Chapin’s death and the wounding of Officer Lorin Johnston.
Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney Rodney Strong, a guest speaker at the luncheon, offered gratitude for Sgt. Chapin’s service and also for the Chapin family’s sense of duty.
“We appreciate the sacrifice of Tim and what he did,” Strong said. “We appreciate the sacrifice of your family as well.”
State Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, noted the sacrifices made on a daily basis by law enforcement.
“Those who lay down their lives for total strangers — that’s public service,” he said.
Also Tuesday, the Exchange Club, a service organization dedicated to preventing child abuse, presented the Blue and Gold Medal to Officer Lorin Johnston, who was injured during the robbery attempt.
Johnston previously received Officer of the Year from the Exchange Club after he donated a kidney to Chattanooga police Officer Daniel Jackson in 2007.