Governor Nathan Deal and other dignitaries gathered in Macon Wednesday to honor the first Georgia state patrolman to die in the line of duty. It was the first in a series of recognitions troopers are planning for their fallen colleagues.
Sergeant William Frederick Black, Jr. of Macon was among the first class of state patrolmen to graduate in 1937. Three years later he was dead, shot by an escaped prisoner at a traffic stop north of Dalton. He was 29 years old.
At the ceremony in Macon’s Grand Opera House, public safety commissioner Mark McDonough addressed the obvious question: “Why are we here? It’s evident that a man 73 years ago gave his life, and it’s appropriate that 73 years late we get it right,” he said.
Troopers have researched the lives and deaths of the first 10 fallen patrolmen, and are developing plans to honor them and many more.
A sign for Sergeant Black now hangs above an intersection on I-16 east of downtown.
Black’s story serves as a reminder of the dangers all public safety officers face, Governor Deal said. “Sometimes we have become disturbed as we see the level of violence that is escalating in relationship to the job we’re asking them to do,” he said.