National Police Week kicked off this week, at the National Mall in Washington D.C. with the 31st candlelight vigil on Monday.
There, all those who have passed in the line of duty will be recognized and their names engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. This year, a former Morristown Town Marshal is being recognized for his line of duty death on August 20, 1880.
Town Marshal James T. Morris’ end of watch came on August 20, 1880 when he was shot by Ben Richardson. Earlier that day, Marshal Morris arrested Richardson for discharging a firearm within the corporate limits of Morristown. Later that same day Marshal Morris was downtown attempting to arrest another individual when he was shot in the back of the head by Richardson.
After hearing the shot, Sheriff Loop encountered Richardson and exchanged gunfire; both Sheriff Loop and Richardson were wounded. As Richardson was leaving on his horse, Sheriff Loop handed his pistol to a citizen who went after Richardson. The citizen was wounded in an exchange of gunfire and Richardson was killed.
It has taken a year to research the incident from 1880 after receiving a letter from a retired Wyoming State Capitol Police Officer. He was researching Wyoming’s “forgotten” duty deaths and stumbled upon Marshal James T. Morris. The incident was written in the Wyoming paper three days prior to the Morristown Gazette.
The Morristown Police Department submitted the research to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund to be added for recognition. In December, the MPD received a letter that Marshal James T. Morris would be formally honored.
The MPD would like to thank all those who were involved in the research. Chief Roger D. Overholt stated, “We are appreciative to all those who have been involved in order for Marshal James T. Morris to be honored not only at the candlelight vigil, but in our community.