When Officer Jerome Hall’s mentor Corporal Edward M. Toatley died in the line of duty, Hall knew he had to find a way to honor him.
Hall, an avid basketball player, thought sports might be the best way.
Since 2001, Hall, who works as a master detention officer for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, has been organizing and running the Battle of the Badges Basketball Tournament to honor those in law enforcement who have lost their life.
“I do this to show those who have lost family members or friends that people still think about them, and that the memory of their loved one still lives on, at least in me,” Hall said.
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This year’s tournament will honor Wake County Sheriff Office Deputy Phil Owens who passed away in a traffic accident while on duty in October of 2003. When Hall reached out to the family about honoring Owens, Hall said he had a two-hour conversation about Owens with his widow.
“She told me, ‘I’ve never had anybody do this for my husband,’ and that really meant a lot to me,” Hall said.
Four teams made up of law enforcement members will compete in the weekend double elimination tournament. Teams will come from Durham, Charlotte, Atlantic City and Hall’s USA Lockdown team, which has members from Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana.
Games will be played Friday through Sunday at Shaw University’s Spaulding Gymnasium.
“I always tell people that this tournament is about more than basketball,” Hall said. “It gives officers from all around to connect and come together for a great cause. A tournament like this goes a long way in showing the commitment to law enforcement that all of us have.”
Along with the tournament, Hall runs a scholarship foundation that has raised more than $12,000 for law enforcement family members and those who are in need. Hall says that he keeps in contact with family members who he has honored in the past and thinks it’s important to show the “brotherhood” of law enforcement members. Hall said he’s inspired other law enforcement members to start tournaments of their own across the country.
“It’s important that people still think about them and that their memory lives on,” Hall said. “To see someone honored really means everything to the family.”