Local police, firefighters mourn loss of Lebanon police officer

Jacob Smith • Mar 2, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Wilson County police and fire departments came together Thursday and Friday to mourn the death of Joseph Bowen, a Lebanon police officer whose body was found in Smith Fork Creek near Dowelltown after he went missing Thursday morning.

According to Lebanon police Sgt. P.J. Hardy, Bowen left the Lebanon Police Department at 6 a.m., following an overnight shift. Hardy said Lebanon police Chief Mike Justice issued a be on the lookout alert after family members tried to call Bowen on his cellphone multiple times but couldn’t reach him.

Bowen’s truck was found Thursday just before 1 p.m. in Smith Fork Creek off Highway 70 near Dowelltown. Bowen wasn’t in the vehicle or anywhere to be found. 

Authorities said Bowen’s truck left Highway 70 and went off an embankment into Smith Fork Creek. Bowen’s body was swept downstream in the creek, which was swollen from recent rain. Bowen’s body was found at about 2:45 p.m. about 200 yards downstream from his truck. Due to the high water and swift currents, four different swift-water rescue team members recovered Bowen’s body.

Bowen’s body was taken to DeKalb County Hospital and later to the state medical examiner’s office in Nashville. Mt. Juliet police officers and firefighters lined Interstate 40 overpasses in Mt. Juliet on Thursday to pay their respects as Bowen’s body was taken to Nashville. 

Funeral services, conducted by David Lawson and Chris McMillen, will be Monday at 1 p.m. at Fairview Church at 1660 Leeville Pike in Lebanon. Interment will follow in Salem Cemetery in Liberty with full police honors.Visitation will be Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. at Sellars Funeral Home in Lebanon and Monday from 11 a.m. until the service at Fairview Church. 

“All of us extend our thoughts and prayers to the Lebanon Police Department and to Officer Bowen’s family and friends,” said Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman.

“We were honored to pay tribute and respect to Lebanon Police Department Officer Bowen as he passed through Mt. Juliet on Interstate 40 earlier today,” said Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler.

The Mt. Juliet Police Department also lit its headquarters blue Thursday night in honor of Bowen. According to Chandler, the building will remain lit until interment.

Bowen was 28 years old. He was a five-year veteran with Lebanon police and had 10 years of law enforcement experience. He was married and had two children a son and a daughter.

Prior to working with the Lebanon Police Department, Bowen was employed at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray said Bowen was a good officer and will be missed.

“Joe Bowen and his family have been true servants to this county,” said Ray. “Joe was much more than an employee to me. He was a true friend. His personal life and work ethics were a true example of what every officer should be like. My department, along with other emergency agencies in the county, mourns his loss and will provide his family for whatever support they need.”

Lebanon police Chief Mike Justice extended his sympathy and condolences to the Bowen family.

“Joe was a great public servant, but more importantly an amazing family man and father,” he said. “This tragedy can only be described as impactful, as it will touch the lives of many, just as Joe had touched so many lives with his kindness.”

Bowen was the grandson of retired Lebanon police officer Frank Bowen and the son of current Lebanon police officer Dewayne Bowen. Justice also thanked the Bowen family for not only his service, but also his father grandfather’s service in law enforcement.

Other Wilson County agencies also took to social media to give their condolences.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lebanon Police Department,” said Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore. “We pray for strength and comfort during this difficult time to you and the Bowen family.”

“Condolences to our brothers and sisters at Lebanon Police Department as the mourn the loss of Officer Joe Bowen,” said Wilson County Emergency Management Agency director Joey Cooper. “We’re praying for you and your family Dewayne Bowen. God bless the LPD.”

A memorial fund was set up that may be accessed by clicking here.  

Hardy said Lebanon police plans to set up a trust account at Wilson Bank & Trust. He said more details would be released Monday.

Recommended for You