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Badge 218: Community recalls Hale’s selfless service

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, May 19, 2018
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Saying Goodbye

SAYING GOODBYE – Richard Hale’s widow, Jenifer Hale, clings to Chief Inspector General Forrest Mitchell as the Honor Guard salutes her husband’s casket at his funeral Tuesday. Hale, a former Decatur police officer, died in a car crash May 9. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Friends, family and scores of law enforcement officers paid their last respects to Deputy Inspector General Richard Hale, a former Decatur police officer, Tuesday.

Hale, who died in a car crash near Decatur May 9, was remembered by family and colleagues as a loving, dedicated public servant. Hale was a firefighter, licensed paramedic and school resource officer at Decatur High School before he joined the Texas Juvenile Justice Department last May.

“The support we see here [at the funeral] is a demonstration that Richard made a positive impact in a professional capacity,” said Chief Inspector General Forrest Mitchell.

“I am a better person for having known Richard.”

Funeral Procession

FUNERAL PROCESSION – Bagpipers lead the funeral procession as pallbearers carry Richard Hale’s casket out of First Baptist Church in Decatur. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Hale, 46, is survived by his wife, Jenifer, and eight children – Thomas, Ryan, Jonathan, Cameron, Cheyanne, Jackson, Kynlee and Brentley.

“He wanted to help any way and every way he could,” Ryan Hale said of Hale’s public service. “…If anyone needed anything he would never turn you down.”

Thomas Hale gathered stories of his siblings’ favorite memories of their father to share with the crowd at his funeral. His children fondly remembered the way Hale loved to drive his car with the top down playing “questionable” music on the way to church, the reminders to respect others, even those people they didn’t like, and his humor.

“He was a great man, and it was an honor and a privilege to be his son,” Thomas Hale said. “…Let us not say goodbye, but see you later.”

End of Watch

END OF WATCH – Decatur police officers wait outside the church after the funeral of their former colleague Richard Hale. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Lt. Gerald Wright of the Decatur Police Department said Hale was “one of the most professional officers I knew.” The two men frequently worked together in the nine years Hale spent as a police officer in Decatur. Wright said Hale often had trouble staying at his post at Decatur High School when he heard his fellow officers needed back-up in town. Wright eventually stopped telling Hale to stay at the school when his colleagues radioed for help.

“When you worked with Richard, you never had to worry about your back because he had your six,” Wright said.

Wright said when Hale wasn’t working, he was fixing cars, hanging out with his wife and kids, dancing with his daughters and fishing. His favorite memory of Hale came from a time when their two families went camping together, and Wright and Hale illegally gathered firewood from the woods for their campfire. When the game warden showed up, Hale tried to bribe him with a hot dog. It didn’t work, and they had to put the wood back.

Lost Brother

LOST BROTHER – Richard Hale’s good friend and former colleague, Decatur Lt. Gerald Wright, crosses in front of the casket on his way to give an eulogy. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

At the end of the service, Hale’s “last call” from dispatch played over the church speakers.

“Badge 218. Badge 218. Deputy Inspector General Richard Hale, badge 218 …”

After a pause as if waiting for Hale to respond, the dispatcher continued.

“All units, no response. Deputy Inspector General Richard Hale was a dedicated husband, devoted father, son and police officer. He has honorably served his community with dignity, pride, bravery and dedication. On May 9, 2018, in the line of duty, he gave the ultimate sacrifice and answered his last call. Thank you for your selfless service. You will never be forgotten for the devotion to your family, friends and duty. Deputy Inspector General Richard Hale, you are clear to go 10-7 [out of service]. Your brothers and sisters behind the badge will take it from here. May God rest your soul. 218 out of service.”

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