MURRAY – Tuesday will mark one year since the fatal shooting of Calloway County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jody Cash. It was not only one of the darkest days in the history of CCSO, but in the history of the community in general, and to honor Cash’s memory, his colleagues will gather at the monument dedicated to him in front of the Calloway County Judicial Building.
Cash died at the age of 44 after being shot in front of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office by Gary Rowling, a suspect he had been interviewing for a drug investigation. Originally from Princeton, Cash began his career in law enforcement with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office before moving on to the Murray State University Police Department and later Kentucky State Police Post 1, retiring with the rank of sergeant. Calloway County Sheriff Nicky Knight later hired him as his chief deputy in September 2020.
Current CCSO Chief Deputy Todd Clere said the public is welcome to join Cash’s fellow officers Tuesday afternoon as they remember his service and legacy.
“To honor Jody, we’re going to go to the monument there in front of the judicial building on Fourth Street at 4:30,” Clere said. “We’re basically going to just have a time of a little silence and prayer and a little encouragement for the officers that show up that can make it there. We just don’t ever want to forget what happened to Jody and the impact that he had on us. We want to honor him every time we get a chance to do so, and that’s what we’re going to do on the 16th.”
Clere said CCSO has invited employees of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, Benton Police Department, the MSU Police Department and the Murray Police Department to participate. Clere said it’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since Cash’s murder, and he said that just last week, he and his wife, MPD Capt. Angel Clere, were talking about how they can still barely wrap their minds around the tragedy.
“Angel and I were just talking about that; it’s unbelievable,” Clere said. “It’s hard to fathom that it actually happened to our community. It’s just crazy. What’s ironic about it is that his incident … actually happened during Police Week, which is the national memorial week for police officers.”
Cash would have most certainly been honored during the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum’s annual ceremonies in Washington, D.C. regardless of what month or week he was killed in the line of duty, but this year’s scheduled events happen to coincide with the one-year anniversary. President John F. Kennedy in 1962 proclaimed May 15 as the first National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. The week was established by a joint resolution of Congress and pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund held the 35th annual Candlelight Vigil on Saturday night, and the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service will be held today. Cash family members – including his widow, Michelle, and his parents, Wayne and Teresa – were invited to attend, and Knight also traveled to Washington to represent CCSO as Cash’s name is added to the NLE Memorial.
According to the organization’s website, www.nleomf.org, the names of 556 officers killed in the line of duty have been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2023. That number includes 224 officers who were killed during 2022 and an additional 332 officers who died in previous years before 2022. There are currently 23,785 names engraved on the Memorial.
“Every one of them was definitely a hero, but the difference is, Jody was my hero,” Knight said. “It’s nice to honor (the fallen officers), but I’m sure the spouses of everybody being honored would rather have them with them than being honored. … It’s still really raw for me; it’s still tough. I love talking about Jody and I love telling stories about Jody every day and laughing about the things that he would do to people in a fun way (jokes he played), or he would dress up at a Christmas party with a funny-looking sweater on and things like that. I do still enjoy talking about Jody like that, but it hurts my heart to talk about it him the way we are talking about him right now (in the context of his death).”
“Jody had a big impact on a lot of people in the community and a lot of people in law enforcement, so his death had the huge impact of losing someone that was so vital to our department and to this community,” Clere said. “He spent a lot of time helping officers out emotionally through PTSD, and he was involved in PCIS (Post-Critical Incident Seminar, a three-day seminar held by the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training). He was always involved in the emotional aspects of how officers are dealing with what they see on a daily basis, so losing that is a big loss, and I really don’t think we’ve recovered from it. There’s a lot of people that still are having issues dealing with his loss in the law enforcement community, and of course, the family is going to deal with it the rest of their lives. There’s officers that are still wearing the mourning badge and haven’t taken it off their uniform.
“I drive my car with Jody’s picture (from) the little pins that we had during his funeral. It’s on my sun visor, so I have his picture staring at me as I’m driving around in my police car. We always want to remember him and always want to remember that safety is the No. 1 aspect and issue in law enforcement. We want to never forget that, and whatever we can learn out of his death, that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
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