From left: R.L. Mattox, Jr. presents a set of his father’s handcuffs to Hurt Police Chief Jason Lovelace.

From time to time in the story of every community, individuals come along who live their lives in ways that leave their peers better off. Aspiring to more than themselves, such individuals become enduring figures in their communities, and their legacies reverberate through generations. 

This perpetuity often manifests in the continuing effects of their good work and ideas, but sometimes it comes in tangible forms, like memorabilia, that speak of the past while providing inspiration for the future.

Hurt Police Chief Jason Lovelace received such an heirloom and honor. Wanting to preserve their father’s memory, Robin Wilkes and R. L. Mattox Jr. recently presented his handcuffs to Chief Lovelace. Roosevelt Mattox Sr. was the town’s longest serving police chief. Known by locals as “Rosie,” he served from 1968 to 1990.  

“Roosevelt was well respected in the community, and I hope I can continue performing the task as well as he did during changing times while protecting our community,” Lovelace reflected in a recent phone call.

“I feel honored that R. L. and his sister Robin thought kindly enough of me to allow me to carry their father’s handcuffs in his honor and memory. It is important to remember our past while we move forward,” Lovelace added.   

The memento carries mainly a sentimental value, though to some degree it also represents something of a proverbial passing of the torch.  

“As soon as he gave me the cuffs, I began carrying them with me while on patrol,” Lovelace said.

Lovelace clarified that he carries the cuffs because of what they symbolize, and not for any anticipated use in his day-to-day duties.  

The police department has an updated mission statement:  “We will protect the innocent while serving our community through respect, fairness, and equality for all.”  

Though Chief Lovelace carries a symbol of the past, he executes a mission for the present and future.