National Police Week ceremony will include dedication of memorial for sheriff slain in 1877.


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


National Police Week holds a special place in the heart of Stephenville Police Chief Dan Harris whose great-grandfather was killed in the line of duty as a Texas Ranger.

To commemorate the week, Harris is organizing a ceremony to honor the 21 Texas police officers who have died in the line of duty in 2021, including 19 who died of the coronavirus.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 12, on the east side of the Erath County Courthouse. It will also include the dedication of a memorial for James Mastin, an Erath County sheriff killed in the line of duty on June 25, 1877.

Mastin was shot and killed when he and a deputy went to a farm near Stephenville to arrest a horse thief.

After searching the house, the officers went back outside where the suspect stepped from behind a tree and opened fire on the officers, killing Mastin.


The deputy returned fire, wounding the man, who then escaped.


A posse of Texas Rangers located the man and killed him in a shootout on Sept. 15, 1877.

“In 1962, President Kennedy set aside May 15th as the day that the nation pauses and formally honors all of the law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty,” Chief Harris told Beneath the Surface News. “The week of May 15th has evolved since then to also serve as the time we honor those who put their lives on the line every day and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our great city, state and country.


“I pray that never happens here and ask that everyone pray for our safety. It is an honor and a privilege for all of us to serve and protect the citizens and visitors of Stephenville.”