The grief over Deputy Chris Dickerson’s death remained present Friday morning as Panola County first responders and those who knew him gathered to re-dedicate the Panola County Fallen Peace Officers memorial.
But hope was also there. Sheriff Kevin Lake says his heart remains full because of Dickerson’s character, his contributions to the community and his dedication to the job.
Dickerson, Lake said, joins the many others killed in the line of duty who gave their lives to protect our safety and defend our freedoms.
“They’re forever bound together by an unbroken bond of valor that only those in this field of expertise can understand,” Lake said. “They gave, as Lincoln said, ‘the last full measure of devotion’ to their country and community that they love so dearly. That is no exception with Chris Dickerson.”
Dickerson, a 2009 graduate of Carthage High School, had worked with the Panola County Sheriff’s Office for eight years until he was shot and killed on Dec. 31, 2019 during a traffic stop. Before joining the sheriff’s office, he served in the Texas Army National Guard. He also served as a volunteer with the Carthage Fire Department.
On Friday, Dickerson’s wife Krista helped unveil the memorial, newly-engraved with “William Christopher Dickerson PCSO 12-31-19.” Dickerson’s name joins a list of seven other Panola County first responders honored for making the ultimate sacrifice.
She thanked both her husband’s colleagues and the community for their unending support
“To this day it is heartwarming to have the outpouring of support from those within the department,” she said. “You have transferred from having Chris’s 6 to having our family’s 6. The amount of weekly calls, texts and daily presence in our lives to keep him alive for me, Kensley, Chelsey and our entire family means more to us than you will ever imagine.”
Organizers of the annual peace officers’ memorial ceremony also stopped Friday to honor another former law enforcement officer: Deputy Constable Sgt. Bob Fleming, who died May 12.
“Sadly today we will unveil this monument again with the name of a man that all of us loved and cherished his friendship,” the Rev. Dale Reed. “We also, I would say, sadly that on the back of your program, we remember another great man today: Bob Fleming. Chris and Bob are the two of the best men I’ve ever known in Panola County.”
Reed recalled a funny example of Dickerson at a Friday morning breakfast. He was the “last one to get there, ate more than anybody there, and when he finished his breakfast he went back for one more bowl of Cheerios.”
Reed told those gathered at the memorial that there was good news from Heaven: They’d see Chris and Bob again.
“This sorrow one day will pass, and all of us that know Jesus will be with him and these forever,” he said. “Do not despair. God doesn’t work the way that Satan does. God gives us hope, and I want you to have that hope today.”
Lake said both he and Krista Dickerson had planned to attend state and national ceremonies to honor fallen officers, but they had been cancelled because of the coronavirus. Getting to attend the local ceremony, however, was sweeter, Lake said.
“Of all years, we’re not going to let this year go by and not have a service despite what’s going on,” he said.
Dickerson was always on the front lines, choosing to be the first man in and the last man out, Lake said. Dickerson served with compassion and served with an endearing heart, Lake said.
Lake told his officers that Dickerson and the other heroes they had lost knew when they began their careers they might have to lay down their lives, serving and sacrificing for a purpose far greater than themselves.
“They’ve left work undone, and we’re going to finish it,” Lake said.