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Hero Down: Oliver Springs Police Officer James Perkins Found Dead In Submerged SUV

Kingston, TN – Oliver Springs Police Department (OSPD) Officer James Perkins was found dead in his submerged SUV on June 18.

A resident spotted the top of the 39-year-old officer’s vehicle sticking out of the Clinch River and immediately called police, the Roane County News reported.

“Apparently his vehicle went in the water sometime early this morning around Ladd Landing boat ramp and drifted downstream to a house on North Kentucky Street,” Kingston Police Department (KPD) Chief Jim Washam told the paper. “The top of the car was visible.”

Police responded to the scene and pulled the officer’s personal vehicle from the river.

“The driver side window was down,” Chief Washam said. “The car was pulled from the water and there was a body in the back. Apparently, it floated back there and it was the body of James Perkins.”

Police said they do not suspect foul play.

District Attorney General Russell Johnson said he asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to join the investigation “out of an abundance of caution,” WVLT reported.

The KPD and the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Critical Response Team are also assisting in the ongoing investigation.

Officer Perkins’ cause of death appears to be drowning, but the events that led to his vehicle going into the water are unclear, WATE reported.

“It is with our deepest regret that we inform you of the off duty passing of Officer James D. Perkins,” the OSPD said in a Facebook post. “Officer James Perkins was an outstanding police officer and spent a lot of his time dedicated to the citizens in our area. We thank you Officer James D. Perkins for your service.”

Officer Perkins graduated from the Cleveland State Community College Police Academy in 2006, and went on to serve with both the Roane State Community College and the Rockwood Police Department prior to joining the OSPD, according to his obituary.

He earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice and was working on his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at the time of his death.

Johnson said that Officer Perkins was always pushing himself to be the best public servant he could be.

“Officer Perkins was a conscientious officer who was always willing to try and better himself as a law enforcement officer in order to do the right thing each day,” the district attorney said. “My office and I will miss him and his service to the 9th District.”

Officer Perkins leaves behind his wife, Chantel, as well as his daughters, Kayla, Layla, and Jessie, according to his obituary.

“James was a humble and kind man, who was always respectful and helpful to everyone, even those who found themselves on the other side of the law,” his obituary read. “He was always the same and would always leave a smile on the faces of those he was around. Above all, James loved his family, was a good Father, and loved ‘His Girls’, who were his life!”

He is also survived by his mother, sister, niece, nephews, and many friends and extended family members.

Officer Perkins was laid to rest on June 27.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Oliver Springs Police Department Officer James Perkins, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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