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Mark A. Taulbee is “patrolling the streets of heaven,” said Hodgenville Mayor Terry Cruse.
Cruse, a former law enforcement official, said there will be emptiness in coming days without Taulbee. Speaking Friday at the fallen officer’s funeral, the mayor said the community must move on.
“Today is the day, if you are or have been in law enforcement, a day that we seldom think about but never forget about. A day that all too often becomes a reality to us and our families as it has today,” he said.
Taulbee died last Sunday at University Hospital in Louisville from injuries sustained during a pursuit in LaRue County.
The officer was chasing Jason L. Avis, 29, of Vine Grove, when for unknown reasons he lost control of his vehicle on the 4600 block of Ky. 210. His cruiser struck an embankment before becoming airborne. Taulbee was ejected from the vehicle, even though he was wearing a seat belt, according to Kentucky State Police.
He is survived by, a daughter, a son and their mother, to whom he was married for 22 years, a sister and three brothers.
Police cruisers from departments including Shepherdsville, Paducah, Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Jeffersontown dominated the streets near City Hall Civic Center, where the funeral took place.
An enormous American flag was suspended on a line between two fire trucks over the city square.
Inside the building, a procession of officers from KSP, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and other law enforcement departments from around the state filed silently past Taulbee’s casket.
About 200 officers filled the benches on either side on the room and in the balconies. Two stood somberly flanking the casket during the procession, heads bowed so the brims of their hats hid their eyes, their gloved hands folded in front of them.
Cruse remembers when Taulbee approached him about becoming a Hodgenville police officer.
“We talked, and the more we talked, the more I knew that I wanted this man working for me,” he said.
Cruse said he never regretted the hire because Taulbee was fair and courteous and did his job the best he could, no matter what challenges he faced.
One of Taulbee’s brothers said the fallen officer wanted to be a police officer from a young age, Cruse said.
People such as Taulbee become officers because they care and want to make a difference in the community. He cared about his family, his friends and fellow residents, Cruse said.
“I believe that police officers, I believe they are not chosen. I believe they are born,” he said. “After getting to know Mark these past 13 months, I believe that Mark was a born policeman.”
After the service, officers filed out to the song “Go Rest High On That Mountain.”
They formed ranks outside the building and saluted Taulbee as the casket was carried outside, followed by his family as bagpipes droned around them.
Columns of cruisers twinkled as the drivers returned to the cars and lit up their red and blue lights.
They drove away from City Hall alongside chugging motorcycles and a hearse that bore Taulbee’s remains to a burial site at a family cemetery near Cecilia.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.