There are numerous questions which remain, and may forever remain, surrounding the death of Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton in a shooting incident at Hurricane Road Tuesday night. What happened? Why? Why did it happen to him?

What is not in question, however, is the impact Hamilton had on the people he was around and the people he served through his job with the Pikeville Police Department. 

Hamilton was laid to rest in the Pikeville City Cemetery Sunday after a funeral service attended by hundreds of friends, family, community members and police officers, not only from different counties, but also different states.

Numerous times during Sunday’s funeral service, speakers returned to the same descriptions of Hamilton — always smiling, always happy, always leaving a room or a situation brighter than when he came into it.

Scotty Hamilton was a police officer for 12 years. For the majority of that, Hamilton was a patrol officer who dealt with a variety of crimes in Pikeville — everything from thefts and domestic incidents to even more serious crimes, and more preventative work, such as patrols in the city’s schools.

For four years, however, Hamilton was assigned to special detail, working with the Kentucky State Police’s Drug Enforcement and Special Investigations East Branch, focused on fighting the region’s drug problem.

In both areas, Hamilton had great impact. His work as a patrol officer has been memorialized in the pages of this newspaper, as numerous stories have been written over the years detailing his work. His work in fighting drugs with DESI is less well-known because those officers most often work anonymously to the public for their own safety, but had a great amount of impact on this community — the community he loved.

His impact, on a personal level, on the people with whom he dealt was also detailed Sunday, as Hamilton was remembered for his uplifting spirit.

Pikeville and Pike County has lost a lot with his untimely death. His family has lost a lot as a result of his death. His friends, coworkers and all who knew him lost a lot Tuesday night.

Our community stands at a crossroads at this moment, as we begin the hard part of adjusting to the “new normal.” Despite all indications, we were not immune from this type of violence, which many of us expected would never happen here.

This incident will change our community. The question is: How do we ensure that change is positive, rather than negative?

We would submit that the answer lies in the life and impact of Scotty Hamilton himself. Yes, every person who spoke about him on Sunday noted his smile, his positivity and how he most often left a room in a better mood than it was when he first came in.

More importantly, though, Scotty Hamilton stood daily in the gap between us and what we fear. By all indications, he did so willingly, knowing full well the risk. But he did it with joy, because he loved this community.

This kind of tragedy can lead to a sense of giving up, that we’ve finally crossed a line too far in terms of crime in our community. But that would be a disservice to Scotty Hamilton’s memory and his legacy.

Scotty Hamilton lived and, ultimately, died to make this a better place. We owe it to him to take his legacy and his demeanor and adopt it as the way our community operates.

Rest well, Officer Hamilton. Your family, your brother police officers and the community you served well will miss you, but we’ll attempt to pick up where you left off.

— Appalachian News-Express

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