The name of Monroe County’s Herbert “Sprocket” Proffitt was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. during the recent National Police Week.
Proffitt, a law enforcement officer for over 50 years, was shot and fatally wounded in the driveway of his home near Tompkinsville on August 28, 2012. Proffitt, who was 82 at the time of his death, had served as Monroe County Sheriff and Tompkinsville Chief of Police and then as Deputy Sheriff for many years.
Although he was retired, his murder was considered a line-of-duty death, based on the motive uncovered during the investigation.
Charles Hammer, also of Tompkinsville, pled guilty in April 2013 to Proffitt’s murder and received a 50-year sentence. According to investigators, Hammer’s motive for the murder stemmed from his arrests by Proffitt many years ago.
Proffitt’s son, Tompkinsville Mayor Jeff Proffitt, and his two children, Morgan and Grayson, attended the ceremonies in Washington when their father/grandfather was honored. Their trip was made possible by “Supporting Heroes,” a non-profit organization that provides support to families of police, fire and EMS personnel killed in the line of duty in Kentucky and Indiana.
After flying from Louisville to Washington on Monday, May 13, the Proffitts attended a reception for bicycle riders from throughout the country who rode to Washington in memory of the fallen officers. Four members of this group rode in memory of “Sprocket” Proffitt. Each presented his son with an engraved bracelet with Sprocket’s “end-of-watch” date (August 28, 2012), along with a bicycle flag imprinted with his picture, department name and end-of-watch date.
Later that evening, the Proffitts were taken on shuttle buses, with police motorcade escorts, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall. A candlelight vigil, honoring the 143 officers who lost their lives in 2012, was attended by over 20,000 people, including police officers from throughout the nation. Each of those attending held a lit candle to show their support.
Names of the fallen officers are listed on the wall alphabetically by state, and the Proffitt family laid a wreath at the wall beneath Sprocket’s name.
On Tuesday, they toured the Capitol and Library of Congress where they met with U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. They were presented with a flag which had flown over the Capitol on April 19, 2013 by Senator Paul.
On Wednesday, a memorial service was held on the Capitol grounds for the survivors of the officers honored, with President Obama giving the keynote address. He then visited with all the families and personally expressed his sympathy to the Proffitts.
A roll call was read and medals were presented to each family in honor of their fallen officer. Jeff Proffitt, representing his family, and a family member of each of the other fallen officers, placed a red carnation in a wreath to form a star, with the wreath later taken to the memorial wall site for display.
The Proffitts’ trip ended Thursday, May 16, as they flew from Reagan International Airport back to Louisville.
Jeff Proffitt said the trip was bittersweet for him and his children, as they had experienced not only the death of his father but also that of his mother, Bernice (Cupp) Proffitt, who died only five days after her husband was killed.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience we will never forget, with all the national leaders we had a chance to visit with and all the tributes and mementos we received in memory of my Dad,” he said. “On the other hand, it was very emotional to experience the grief we shared with the other families who were there in somewhat similar situations.”