No Greater Love: Fallen officers honored with highway sign

Published 7:38 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Fallen Panola County officers honored on Police Memorial Day; highway dedication signs unveiled

The Panola County Sheriff’s Office observed Law Enforcement Memorial Day at the Batesville Courthouse in a solemn ceremony Monday, as officers from Batesville police joined deputies to honor the memory of the county’s four officers who were killed in the line of duty.

A monument near the front entrance of the courthouse bears the names of the officers slain in Panola County. They are as follows:

  • Town Marshall Lige Denman of the Crowder Police Department, killed Sept. 13, 1939.
  • Deputy Joe Cosby, killed Sept. 30, 1988.
  • Officer Leo Parrish of the Crenshaw Police Department, killed April 1, 1989.
  • Constable Raye Hawkins, killed Dec. 12, 2019.

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The Rev. Rupert Morgan, also a part-time deputy for Panola County, spoke to the gathered crowd, reminding them that “in due time” God’s will for all lives is made manifest.

The occasion was also used to unveil new highway signs that will be placed on sections of local highways commemorating the lives and service of two of the slain officers.

Northern Transportation District Commissioner John Caldwell, Sen. Nicole Akins-Boyd (who wrote the Senate bills that made the designations possible), Panola County Sheriff Shane Phelps and Investigator Clint Roberson all spoke at the event.

The families of  Constable Raye Hawkins and Deputy Joe Kenneth Cosby were present for the unveiling and the dedications.

During the 2022 Legislative Session, Senate Bill No. 2545 was signed into law, designating a section of Mississippi Highway 35, beginning at Morrow Road in Courtland and extending approximately one mile south to Sullivant Road, to be designated and known as the “Constable Raye Hawkins Memorial Highway.”

Senate Bill No. 2546 was signed into law, designating a section of Mississippi Highway 51, beginning at Thermos Drive and extending approximately one mile north to Viney Creek Road, to be designated and known as the “Deputy Joe Kenneth Cosby Memorial Highway.”

Constable Raye Hawkins spent 30 years serving the citizens of Panola County. He began his law enforcement career with the Batesville Police Department in 1990, working in the Crime Prevention Division and leading the DARE Program.

In 1998, Hawkins ran in a special election for the District 2 constable position, which he won. He served the citizens of Panola County as constable until 2000, when he decided to leave the Batesville Police Department and focus all his time as constable of Panola County.

In 2019 Hawkins would win his final election by doing something he had never done in all his years of running for constable – winning all 14 of the precincts in his district.

Deputy Joe Kenneth Cosby was a lifelong citizen of Panola County and made his home in the Eureka Community Southeast of Batesville. He started his law enforcement career in 1976 with the Panola County Sheriff’s Office and served for almost 13 years until the fateful day of Sept. 30, 1988. 

On that day, Cosby was murdered by a prisoner he was transporting to court. This tragedy occurred north of Batesville on Highway 51.