Law Enforcement Support

Mission Moment – Oct 2020

“losing a child is an unspeakable pain”

A father grieves the loss of his son on New Year’s Day 2017

By: Greg Estep Wise, Virginia

At approximately 2:20am on January 1, 2017, my 21-year old son, Thomas Estep became a victim. At the same time, I became a victim. His mother, Cheryl, became a victim. All the rest of his family and his friends became victims. All these victims were created by the actions of one selfish and irresponsible individual.

For my family, 2016 had been a good year. New Year’s Eve, which is also my wife, Elizabeth’s birthday, had been a great day. Then on January 1st, life reached up and grabbed us by the throat. Losing a child is an unspeakable pain that few people can understand. There are days when I wonder how the sun rises, how people can even sing, buy groceries, or pay bills. In other words, how can life go on in the face of such sadness. My tears are right there behind everything I am doing. I will repeat, all this was created by one selfish and irresponsible individual who made the choice to drink and then drive.

Thomas wore a lot of hats with me. He was my loving son, farming partner, my confidant, my buddy, and my chauffer to name a few. He picked up a guitar and taught himself how to play. In 2015, he joined our church praise band as the lead guitarist. In 2016, he began playing for an up and coming country singer, Kaitlyn Baker. She and her band played in numerous venues in several states. In 2016, to promote her new music, Kaitlyn and Thomas embarked on three radio tours in 13 states covering more than 10,000 miles.

Thomas and I lived on the same farm, about a mile apart. As I visited with him on New Year’s Eve, we discussed our farm work for the coming week. He told me he and some friends were getting together that night as they had done for several years on New Year’s Eve. I asked him if he would be spending the night away from home and he said no that he wanted to sleep in his own bed. I cautioned him to be careful. His reply, the last words he ever spoke to me was, “yes there will be nuts on the road tonight”.

The next morning, New Year’s Day, I was watching YouTube videos of Kaitlyn and Thomas when Elizabeth said there was a police car pulling into the driveway. It was a Virginia State Trooper bringing the horrible news that would change our lives forever.

At the age of 21, Thomas had life figured out. He was right with God and proud to be an American. He did not believe in material things and was very modest. He was giving with his money and time to many people. He knew to be truly happy in life, you had to enjoy your vocation. He loved farming and music and knew his hard work would provide for him. His legacy and love of music will live on forever.

When someone plans their holiday outings or at any other time, I am begging them to please be responsible if they drink. I do not want anyone else to be a victim of this 100% preventable violent crime. We should all be thankful for MADD’s hard work to eliminate drunk and impaired driving so there are no more victims!

I am not alone in my work to help with this mission. God and Thomas are with me every step of the way. I would like to close with Thomas’ favorite Bible verse. John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. Thomas did that very thing. Thank you for listening to his story.

Editor’s note:

The attached link will take you to a short PSA video produced by MADD Virginia the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles highlighting Thomas Estep’s story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1ycmBJC1Tg

Guest Author – Oct 2020

“You make a positive difference in ways you never really understand”
Jim Camp, JD
MADD State Advisory Board Chair, TN,
MADD National Law Enforcement Committee
Pres. Dynamic Messages LLC (Training and Consulting)
Ret. Elected District Attorney WI, Ret. Assistant District Attorney General & Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor TN

In today’s politicized law enforcement environment, you hear elected officials calling for the defunding of police. A number of folks have even suggested that officers hand over the duty of traffic enforcement to municipal workers. You have heard senseless arguments that a suspected impaired driver asleep in a fast-food drive-through is not dangerous and should not be approached by law enforcement. All of this can make you want to quit. It is no shock then to see officer retirement numbers rising around the country and with it a rise in deaths due to impaired driving.

In times like these those of you in law enforcement and prosecution need to take stock and remember that your calling allows you to do something few other beings ever get a chance to do. You have the opportunity to serve, to help, to change, to save and to touch the lives of those with whom you share this at times not so common existence. Despite what uninformed others may say you DO make a positive difference!

You make a positive difference in ways you never really understand and seldom think of. Like every time you assist a grieving mother through the painful court process as she struggles to make sense of the loss of her only son to a selfish drug and alcohol impaired driver. You make a positive difference every time you are the focus of an angry and irrational father who’s entire family has been violently removed from his life and who can’t understand why the court system allows the idiot who killed them to be out on the street and still driving a car. You even make a positive difference when you stand respectful yet tall and proud while a misguided citizen takes out their frustrations on you for doing the right thing.

But there is one other thing to remember. A very big thing.

Every time you take an impaired driver off the road you are preventing a homicide, because every impaired driving case is a potential homicide.

It is here that you must stop and take stock. You must look to those who would otherwise have perished on our highways if not for the work you have done and continue to do. You must also look to those who would otherwise have grieved but for you. You do what few others have the courage, the strength, the knowledge, or skill to ever hope to do. You have the opportunity to make a positive difference and prevent tragedy. You save lives. You do God’s work. Very few others can make that claim.

Officer of the Month – Oct 2020

October Officer of the Month 

Sergeant Vincent Turocy

Tennessee Highway Patrol

Sergeant Vincent Turocy has been a trooper for the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) since 2000. He became a certified Drug Recognition Expert in 2008. He has received numerous traffic enforcement awards throughout his 20-year career to include the THP Trooper of the Year in 2013, the Top Ten DUI Enforcer awards in 2012 (#1) and in 2013 (#4). He received the MADD Hero Award in 2013, the MADD Silver Enforcement Award in 2014, and the MADD Bronze Enforcement Award in 2015. In 2017, he received the MADD Tennessee State Director’s Choice Award.

Sergeant Turocy has served as the MADD Tennessee State Advisory Board Law Enforcement Committee Chair since 2015 and plays an integral role in helping plan, organize, and emcee MADD’s annual Statewide Night of Remembrance and Awards Ceremony which began in 2015. It now sees annual attendance of over 400 victims and law enforcement personnel. In addition, he also captained the THP Middle Tennessee Law Enforcement Walk team from 2015 - 2018.

He forfeited his role as Walk Captain in 2019 when he was out on medical leave for 10 months after he was hit in January 2019 by a drunk driver while on duty in Nashville. The driver's BAC was .191%. She hit Sergeant Turocy while he was parked on the side of the road working radar speed enforcement. He returned to work in October 2019 and again, resumed his involvement in the Statewide Night of Remembrance and Awards Ceremony.

He was the top fundraiser for the Middle Tennessee Walk in 2018. The THP Walk team that he captained was the Top Law Enforcement Team Fundraiser in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Under a new team captain, the THP Team won again in 2019, walking in honor of Sergeant Turocy after he was hit by the drunk driver earlier in the year.

MADD National is honored and proud to select Sergeant Vincent Turocy as its October 2020 Officer of the Month. Special thanks to MADD Tennessee and Michelle Rozell, Marketing Program Specialist, for nominating him.

MADD extends our deepest condolences to the agencies and families who have lost officers and loved ones in the line of duty

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For a complete listing of Officers lost in the line of duty, please visit: www.odmp.org

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