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Never forgotten: Late officer honored by governor

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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Star of Texas Award

STAR OF TEXAS AWARD – Governor Greg Abbott presented a Star of Texas Award to Richard Hale’s wife, Jenifer, and son, Thomas, at a ceremony in Austin last week honoring first responders who were killed or injured in the line of duty. Also on hand for the presentation were representatives from the Office of Inspector General. Hale was serving as a deputy inspector general for the OIG of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department when he was killed in a car wreck near Decatur in May. Submitted photo

The sacrifice of a local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in May was honored at the Star of Texas Awards presentation in Austin last week.

For Jenifer Hale of Decatur, accepting the award on behalf of her late husband, Richard, was a bittersweet moment.

“It was more about the honor to accept the award on his behalf. It shows the kind of man he really was,” she said.

Richard was killed in a car wreck on Farm Road 51 a few miles north of Decatur on May 9. He was on duty as a deputy inspector general for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department at the time of the crash. He also previously spent nine years with the Decatur Police Department.

The Star of Texas Awards are presented each year on Sept. 11, which has been designated as Texas First Responders Day. The award honors officers, firefighters and first responders who were killed or sustained injuries in the line of duty.

Jenifer accepted the award from Governor Greg Abbott at the State Capitol. She said Abbott took the time to speak to each of the recipients and ask how they were doing.

“He thanked me for Richard’s service for the State of Texas and for our family’s sacrifice, how we’ll always have the full support of Texas behind us,” she said.

Richard was one of 16 officers killed in the line of duty in the state in the past year. Jenifer was able to meet the families of the other officers killed and said she found a new bond of friendship with the widow of Richardson Police Department Officer David Charles Sherrard. Sherrard was shot and killed Feb. 7.

She also found support from the OIG, which had around 20 representatives in attendance at the ceremony. Afterwards, Jenifer visited the OIG office in Austin for another special presentation.

While she had been given her husband’s badge, Jenifer wanted their children to be able to have something to memorialize their father’s law enforcement service. The OIG’s office made sure that would happen.

“They had eight officers donate their badges to the kids. They were framed, and each had the name of the officer who gave it. I think that was very humbling,” she said.

Jenifer described the support she and her family have been given from the law enforcement community, and the OIG in particular, as “amazing.”

When their son graduated from the police academy in the Marine Corps not long after Richard’s death, the late officer’s chief and lieutenant both drove up to Missouri to stand in for Richard.

“Law enforcement really takes care of their own,” Jenifer said. “You don’t really experience it fully until something tragic happens. For them to do everything they’ve done for us, it’s just been amazing.”

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