On Nov. 14, 2011, Doraville Police Det. Robert Shane Wilson was serving his community as the on-call detective for the city when he was called away from his home and family to respond to a home-invasion robbery. While en-route to this emergency call, Det. Wilson was struck head-on by a vehicle traveling the wrong way on Interstate 20, which resulted in his death.
On May 7, the state of Georgia recognized officers who have died in the line of duty by placing their names on the Georgia Public Safety Memorial Wall at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. Det. Wilson’s name was not among them.
A decision was made by the memorial committee, headed by GPSTC Director Tim Bearden, that Det. Wilson’s was not considered a “line of duty” death. This decision was made despite the fact that the committee’s own guidelines state “Clearly, an ‘off-duty’ employee responding to a fire, an armed robbery, an escape or an injured person would be considered to be engaged in ‘line of duty’ activities.”
As a police officer in the state of Georgia for the past 23 years, I find this decision patently offensive and inexcusable. Every officer who is in the act of taking police action – regardless of the time of day, the hours of their normal shift, or the mechanism of their death – is acting in the line of his or her duty. We, as a law-abiding society, owe these men and women nothing less than to establish their memories in this lasting place of honor. We owe Det. Wilson nothing less.
It is my hope that bringing attention to this dishonorable action by Director Bearden and the committee will encourage them to reconsider their decision and recognize Det. Wilson’s service and sacrifice, as all of our state’s officers deserve.