Joe P. Asher
Former Harlan City Police Chief James C. Pope was remembered during a memorial service on Saturday — 90 years after having been killed in the line of duty.
Current members of the Harlan police force, along with many of Pope’s descendants, gathered at the Harlan Center to remember the fallen law enforcement officer.
Reverend Doyle Smith spoke to those gathered in remembrance.
“In 1922, James C. Pope served as the chief of police for the city of Harlan,” said Smith. “In November of that year, Chief Pope was killed in the line of duty. The Harlan Enterprise headlined the incident “Struggle ends in Horrible Tragedy.”
Smith gave an account of Pope’s final day on duty, stating the Pope was killed attempting to arrest two men creating a disturbance at a home on Cumberland Avenue.
“Chief Pope had been summoned from court, where he was testifying in a trial,” said Smith. “When he arrived at the home with the other officer, they were confronted by the father of one of the men creating the disturbance. The father told the chief that he would bring the two men down to the court shortly. As they discussed this, one of the men came downstairs holding a gun. The officer with Pope immediately began to struggle with the man as the second man came into the room from the basement. Shots were exchanged and Pope, the first suspect and the father were all killed.”
Current Chief Mike Thomas also spoke in remembrance of Pope.
“I want to share with you today how I became aware of Chief Pope,” said Thomas. “In 2008, when I became chief, I wanted to know some history of our department. Sometimes before you know where you’re going you have to know where you’ve been. A little town known as Mt. Pleasant… became Harlan in 1912. Ten years later on November 28 1922, the city would lose its’ police chief in a tragic shooting.”
Thomas said Pope had not been placed on any of the official memorials to fallen police officers until 2010, when he was placed on the National Fallen Officers Memorial in Washington D.C., as well as the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial in Richmond.
“At the time of his inductions, the city had been awarded a historical grant to hang banners around town. The photo that you see of Chief Pope on the side of our building was the first,” said Thomas.
“Thank you James C. Pope for serving both our country and our city, you will not be forgotten,” said Thomas.
After the spoken presentations, The Harlan Honor Guard performed a 21-gun salute in memory of Pope.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com