The Chief William Hannah Police Memorial was installed at the Dalton Police Services Center Thursday afternoon. The memorial, which was announced back in May, fulfills a promise made by the City of Dalton more than a century ago.
The memorial is named in honor of Chief William “Bill” Hannah who was killed by a gunman on September 20, 1899. Chief Hanna was shot and killed by 18 year old Will Jones. News accounts of the slaying differ, but most agree that Hannah went to Mount Rachel after complaints of Jones causing a disturbance by firing his rifle into the air while drunk. Chief Hanna confronted Jones, who pointed his gun at Hannah. Hanna reportedly said that Jones would not shoot him, at which time Jones shot him in the head. Hannah died two hours later. Jones fled but was captured 26 years later in Texas and returned to Dalton to face trial. News accounts of that trial and its resulting verdict have been lost.
In October 1899, the Dalton City Council resolved to mark Chief Hannah’s grave with “a suitable monument commemorative of his untimely end.” That resolution was never carried out, and over the years the location of Chief Hannah’s unmarked grave has been lost. In recent years, efforts to determine the location of Chief Hannah’s grave have been unsuccessful. Instead, the DPD resolved to place a memorial marker on the grounds of the Police Services Center at 301 Jones Street in honor of Chief Hannah and law enforcement officers everywhere who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
Also honored on the memorial is Officer Maurice W. Phillips who was killed in the line of duty on December 25, 1956. Officer Phillips was training a fellow officer on some “quick draw” techniques at the police headquarters in Dalton’s old city hall building on December 22nd, 1956. The officers were practicing with unloaded weapons. When the other officers stepped out of the room, Officer Phillips reloaded both weapons. When the officer returned, he again tried the “quick draw” not realizing that his gun was now loaded. He fired, hitting Officer Phillips in the chest. Officer Phillips succumbed to his injuries three days later.
"Chief Hannah paid the ultimate price of service, and it will be good to go the last mile and finish what we started over one hundred years ago," said Dalton Police Chief Jason Parker earlier this year. "Although the original idea in 1899 was to place a marker at Chief Hannah's grave, locating it here will be a more prominent location and will serve as a visible reminder of his service. This site will commemorate his service, but will also serve as a focal point for future police memorial observances".
The monument, a 2,500 pound granite stone, was installed by D&S Monuments of Dalton. The memorial is in a plaza near the intersection of Waugh Street and Jones Street. It reads: "DEDICATED TO ALL WHO HAVE MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE IN THE LINE OF DUTY" with the end of watch dates for Chief Hannah and Officer Phillips.
Below: The Chief William Hannah Police Memorial stands on the grounds of the Police Services Center shortly after being installed Thursday