Kirkley named Crimestoppers Officer of Year
Just after noon, Union County Crime Stoppers President Reid Helms announced the Officer of the Year.
"Crime Stoppers, through their applications, picked an officer who's not here today," Helms said. "His name is James Kirkley."
Kirkley died of brain cancer in early November at the age of 45. He left behind a wife and daughter. Fellow deputies and police officers rallied to Kirkley's side as he fought to get better. They also mourned when he died.
Each year, the Union County Crime Stoppers choses one member of a county law enforcement agency to honor during its fundraising barbecue.
Sheriff Eddie Cathey described Kirkley as a man who did more to bring the agency together than anyone else in the last 10 years.
"He brought things to our agency in the last two months of his life that made our whole agency closer, made us know what it was to feel comfortable, to work together and to understand how important life is," Cathey said.
Cathey said he could not recall one thing Kirkley did that was outstanding, but he did remember a man who put on a uniform and applied his knowledge and personality to his job every day without fail.
"Up till the time he passed, I'd go to see James and the last thing he said to me, and I won't ever forget it, he'd say Sheriff, I want you to know I love you," Cathey said. "Unabashed, God-fearing person. And that's the way he lived his life."
Helms presented Kirkley's family two checks amounting to $1,000 given by the Union County Crime Stoppers, First Citizen's Bank and U.S. Bonding Company.
Kirkley's wife Robin tearfully thanked everyone for their support.
"James would have been honored," she said.