Community says goodbye to Lebanon police officer

Lebanon Police Officer Joseph Bowen was found in Dry Creek after the truck he was driving crashed into the flooded creek. (Photo: Lebanon Police Department)

Tennessee Highway Patrol and other law enforcement escorted the body of a Lebanon Police officer back to Wilson County on Friday after he was found dead after a crash the morning before.

Officer Joseph Bowen, 28, was on his way home from work when he lost control of his truck, hit a tree and crashed into a creek on Thursday morning in DeKalb County.

During his escort, Mt. Juliet Police and Mt. Juliet Fire Dept. personnel raised flags and put their hands over hearts on the Beckwith Road overpass on I-40 as Bowen passed by on his way home.

“That is just another way that we can show support for the family, show support for the officers but also show support for him and honor him for what he has done for the Lebanon community and the state of Tennessee,” said Capt. Tyler Chandler of Mount Juliet Police.

Seeing the first responders gathered over I-40 made neighbors stop and watch.

“I was actually at Providence coming home from the store, and I got a Nixel alert that they would be here,” said Colleen Brooks, a Mount Juliet resident. “This is my normal route home, and I couldn’t drive by without stopping.”

The Lebanon community lost a dedicated public servant.

A third-generation officer, Bowen served with the department for five years. Before that, he worked as a correctional officer and deputy in DeKalb County.

His father, Officer Dwayne Bowen, says he’s leaning on his brothers and sisters in service for support.

“This is one of the toughest things I’ve ever experienced," said Lebanon Police Chief Mike Justice. "It’s like the department’s lost a brother, a community’s lost a son. So we’re going to try and stay together and with the family also."

Bowen left behind his wife, a 4-year-old daughter and a 19-month-old son.

Chief Justice said he wants Bowen’s family to know they are not alone.

“We’re trying to stay as close to the family as we can, and we’re trying to let them know that the word 'no' is not in our vocabulary when it comes to anything they need,” Justice said.

The police chief said he also is working to provide grief counselors to anyone in the department that needs to talk through the tragedy.

According to officials, Bowen's visitation will be held Sunday, March 4 at Sellars Funeral Home in Lebanon. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 5 at Fairview Church in Lebanon. Interment with full police honors will follow at the Salem Cemetery in Liberty, Tenn.

A memorial fund has been set up for Bowen's family. To donate, visit

@LebanonPD’s Officer Joseph Bowen is being escorted back home after he died yesterday. @MtJulietPolice and @MtJulietFire are in position to show their respects as he comes through.— Briona Arradondo (@BrionaWSMV) March 2, 2018
We were honored to pay tribute and respect to @LebanonPD Officer Bowen as he passed through #MtJuliet on Interstate 40 earlier today.— Mt. Juliet Police (@MtJulietPolice) March 2, 2018

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