On Your Side: Bill passes to honor Trooper Vernon

On Your Side: Bill passes to honor Trooper Vernon

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - 12 On Your Side succeeds in helping a family with it's dream of honoring the life of a Virginia State Trooper killed in the line of duty. A bill has made it through the General Assembly that will re-name a bridge in memory of Trooper Jacqueline Vernon. The family is elated and says they kept hitting road blocks until our first story aired.

It's close to becoming law. The Virginia State Police Association says two companion bills passed unanimously in the House and Senate and are either on Governor McAuliffe's desk, or on the way for his signature. That prompted the deceased Trooper's brother to reach out to NBC12.

Ron Vernon, deceased Trooper Jacqueline Vernon's brother, expresses heartfelt gratitude for everyone's support.

"I just want to say thank you to everybody especially Diane and to the City Manager for Arlington," said Ronald Vernon.

Trooper Vernon was one of eight females in the 73rd class of troopers.

She graduated in 1984. Then, their male comrades resented women wearing the badge. But, the women helped each other through the mostly all white male work environment.

"The older troopers that have now long since retired, a lot of them were less comfortable. I'll use that word. They were less comfortable with us," said Leslie MaCafee. A former classmate of Trooper Vernon.

Overcoming challenges was Vernon's life. She won 11 commendations in four years. August 16, 1988 she was killed. Hit by bus while writing a ticket on interstate 3-95. Her brother says the ultimate sacrifice warrants a memorial.

"It's going to be the next exit from the Pentagon. So, a lot of people are going to see this. So, I'm really pleased about that," Ronald Vernon said.

Getting Virginia lawmakers attention was difficult, partly because there's no process in place to memorialize fallen officers.

Families of deceased troopers who amass the largest public outcry get the special honor. VSPA wants it changed.

"Our vow to our folks is that we will never ever forget you whether you were killed 76 years ago or this year," said Wayne Huggins with the Virginia State Police Association.

Vernon's classmates were troubled that Virginia's first African American and first female trooper killed in the line of duty didn't get a public memorial right after her end of watch.

"It bothered me. It bothered me as a woman. In this department for the Virginia state police to have this to go through for so many years that she just now getting a bridge in honor of her name," said Brenda Stokes, former classmate of Trooper Vernon.

They say a memorial bridge recognizing Trooper Vernon is earned, deserved and long overdue.

"She'd be happy. I think she's happy right now, looking down," Stokes added.

No one has any doubt the Governor will sign it.

A public ceremony will be held and the bridge on 3-95 crossing Glebe Road, will be renamed. That's the closest location to where Trooper Vernon was killed.

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