After over 40 years in law enforcement with the last 36 years with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Lt. Steve Russell of McKenzie has retired.
A ceremony was held at the THP office in Nashville on Jan. 31 to denote his years of service.
He was employed by the Henry County Sheriff’s Department for three and a half years prior to joining the Highway Patrol in 1983.
When he retired, he was a lieutenant over Carroll, Henry and Benton Counties, Troop C.
He says of his years in law enforcement that he can’t think of any other career that he would have rather done.
“It’s been one that I have thoroughly enjoyed,” said Russell, who is a firm believer in serving the public. “I believe we are put here to serve and that’s what I’ve always tried to do.”
While employed as a Henry County deputy and working under Sheriff Dickie Bomar, he almost lost his life.
In 1981, he was shot in the face with a shotgun by a young man he thought was a stranded motorist on the Henry-Mansfield Road. Unbeknownst to Russell was the fact that the youth and his friend had just committed a theft at a house and had stopped to use drugs. Today, Russell still has shotgun pellets in his face from that incident.
Still that did not deter him from continuing his law enforcement career.
After starting with the highway patrol, he served as trooper working wrecks and emergency situations for six years. From 1989 – 1996, he worked as a criminal investigator. In 1996 he was promoted to sergeant of Weakley and Gibson Counties for Troop B and also served as lieutenant for Troop B in those counties. In 1999 he received a promotion to lieutenant for Troop B and finally to Troop C in Carroll, Benton Counties from which he has retired.
He noted that he has always had the support of his wife, the former Cherry Murray of Henry to whom he has been married for 35 years, and his two sons, Travis and Lee.
“I have been blessed to have a wonderful wife who has supported me every step of the way,” said Russell.
Lee has chosen to follow in the footsteps of his father as he is a sergeant in the Special Operations Section of the Tennessee Highway Patrol as a helicopter pilot. Travis is a dentist with an office in McKenzie where his late grandfather, Dr. Harold Russell, practiced.
Lee is married and his wife’s name is Mandi, who works as a RN/case manager at Henry County Medical Center. They have one son, Connor. Travis’ wife’s name is Bethany and she is a family practitioner at East Wood Clinic in Paris. They have one daughter, Piper.
What plans does the retiring law enforcement officer have for the future?
For now, his plans are to enjoy his two grandchildren and then he will decide what to do in the future.
“Because at age 60, I believe that’s too young to retire,” he said.