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saluting employees

Fallen TDCJ officer honored during flag raising, memorial ceremonies

photo collage of memorial service
TDCJ Honor Guard team members, motorcycle riders and flag-bearing training cadets were all part of ceremonies in Huntsville and Austin to salute and remember fallen peace officers, including TDCJ Training Sgt. Barbara Shumate.

Photos by David Nunnelee and Jene Robbins

Fallen TDCJ Training Sgt. Barbara Shumate was remembered by her colleagues and her agency during flag raising and officer memorial ceremonies in late April and early May.

The flag raising ceremony at the Minnie R. Houston Training Academy near Huntsville was held on April 30 by the Correctional Training and Staff Development Department in conjunction with the Texas Peace Officers Memorial Foundation’s “We Remember Memorial Trek Across Texas” bicycle ride in honor of the peace officers killed in the line of duty last year. Shumate died in a car accident on June 13, 2008 while driving to the training facility where she had worked for nearly five months. She was 49.

Shumate’s service to the state of Texas was also recognized during the Tenth Annual TDCJ Fallen Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in Huntsville on May 8. Shumate, an Oklahoma native, moved to Huntsville in 1992 and attended Sam Houston State University, where she majored in criminal justice and journalism. She joined TDCJ as a correctional officer at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville in December 1998 and was promoted to sergeant five years later. She moved to the training department as an instructor in February 2008.

“To her last moment of life, Barbara was the epitome of devotion and service to the agency,” said Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver J. Bell of Austin at the memorial ceremony in May. “It’s not easy working in a unit. It’s not always safe. But those who work for TDCJ know that your duty in protecting offenders, your fellow employees and the citizens of Texas is always an inspiration.”

Seven other correctional officers from around the country who died in 2008 were recognized during the Huntsville ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and the planting of a live oak at the TDCJ Sesquicentennial Plaza in Shumate’s memory.

“We owe so much to the dedicated public servants who day in and day out protect the public,” said TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston. “We should all be proud to have served with the men and women who devoted their lives, and ultimately lost their lives, while providing public safety. We should be equally proud to recognize their sacrifice, to honor their memories and to be able to say that they are not now nor will they ever be forgotten.”

Days earlier, more than 200 training cadets holding American and Texas flags lined the roadway leading into the Minnie R. Houston Training Academy as six police officers on bicycles and dozens of TDCJ employees on motorcycles arrived to honor Shumate’s sacrifice. The procession was led by Correctional Training and Staff Development Department Sgt. Keith Rodney who carried a flag bearing patches of the law enforcement agencies that lost officers during the year. The bicyclists representing the San Antonio, Odessa and Corpus Christi police departments started their 1,800-mile journey on April 27 and stopped for memorial ceremonies in 14 different communities before ending their trek on May 4 at the Texas Peace Officer’s Memorial Service in Austin.

San Antonio Police Department officer Steven Bazany said peace officers have been making the memorial trek across the state in honor of fallen colleagues since 1993.

“We do this not for ourselves, we do this for our family,” Bazany said. “And when we say family, we mean the ‘Blue Family.’ If you wear a brown uniform, a gray uniform or a uniform of any color, if you put the badge on, you’re part of ‘the Blue.’ This is to say thank you to all of you for giving one of your loved ones to protect all of us.”

The playing of Taps accompanied the raising of the memorial flag in Shumate’s honor and a wreath was placed as a symbol of remembrance. A memorial plaque now hanging inside the training academy was also unveiled.

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