COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Thursday, fellow brothers in blue, along with family and friends, paid their respects to Maury County Reserve Deputy Brad Miller. His death shined a light on traffic safety.
“Deputy Brad Miller was stationed in his marked patrol unit, with blue lights flashing. He was filling the gap between men and women doing their jobs, to leave this county better,” said Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland.
Miller’s life started and ended with blue flashing lights.
“When you hear it, it shakes your soul,” said David Stolinski. “He was the guy they called when they needed something. He was that kind of person and the fact that he was doing it for free. The fact that he was a reserve deputy, that takes a certain kind of person to do it.”
It’s stories like Miller’s that Stolinski has to hear each time a fellow brother-in-blue dies. Stolinski works with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office but also with the Middle & East Tennessee Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).
The nonprofit is called into action with any law enforcement officer who dies in the line of duty. They are there to not only help the department navigate through the next steps, but also the family who is dealing with sudden death.
“My collateral duty is that I hear about them all, and I may have never met that person, but I’m now going to know their family. I’m now going to help their family,” Stolinski said.
According to Stolinski, traffic-related incidents are often a thin line away from becoming deadly.
“Every day is a danger. One of the main things we do in law enforcement is traffic stops, or directing traffic. I’ve worked many times in my career where I have to go out in the middle of the intersection to help pull a tire, that’s not safe. It’s like playing frogger,” explained Stolinski.
Miller was working a traffic detail in a work zone when his SUV was hit. A former police officer rushed to his aid before first responders arrived. His death puts a spotlight on the everyday dangers they face.
“We have three this year compared to none in 2021. With COVID going on, we didn’t see this, but now folks are starting to get back out on the road. We’re starting to get into the swing of life, and we’re starting to see an uptick again,” Stolinski said.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released their Mid-Year Fatality Report. This year, traffic-related remained higher than it has in the past decade.
“I think we just get to the point where we get tunnel vision of what we’re doing. We’re driving down a road, and we have just all kinds of interior distractions nowadays from cell phones. I think people aren’t paying attention like they used to,” explained Stolinski.