Hed: Fallen officer honored as Trooper of the Year

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON - If Bobby "Bubba" Wells had lived, Tuesday would have been a grand day for him.

Wells, who grew up in Starkville, would have been named Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper of the Year on the date of his 31st birthday.

Instead, Wells' family - his parents and sister - were on hand to accept the Trooper of the Year honor. Wells was struck and killed June 27 after exiting his patrol car on I-55 north of Batesville to issue a speeding ticket.

"He wanted to be a law enforcement officer," said his mother, Edna Wells. "It was his life. He thoroughly enjoyed what he was doing. He devoted his life to it."

And Bubba Wells was a good officer. In 1994, which was Wells' first year as a trooper, he established records for issuing driving under the influence citations and other traffic tickets.

"He was a workaholic," said Col. Jimmy Stringer, director of the Highway Patrol. "He lived and breathed the Mississippi Highway Patrol. He died doing what he loved most."

Wells was honored Tuesday during the Highway Patrol's annual banquet, where the Trooper of the Year is named. The banquet is sponsored by the Exchange Club of North Jackson.

Exchange Clubs throughout the state hold similar banquets. At those banquets Troopers of the Year for the nine Highway Patrol districts that cover the state are honored. Officers from the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy, Criminal Investigation Bureau and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics also are honored.

Wells was selected as Trooper of the Year for the state from those 12. The overall state winner is selected by a committee of troopers named by Stringer.

Letoris Shumpert of Fulton was the Trooper of the Year for the New Albany district, which covers much of Northeast Mississippi. Daniel Mark Henderson of Cedarbluff was the Trooper of the Year for the Starkville District, and Wells was the Trooper of the Year for the Batesville District.

Col. Stringer said Wells was a worthy Trooper of the Year for the entire state. When he was killed in late June, he already had issued 191 citations for driving under the influence for 1995. At that pace, he would have shattered his 1994 record of 246 DUI arrests.

Before graduating from the Highway Patrol Academy in 1993 and becoming a trooper, Wells worked as a dispatcher in the Starkville Highway Patrol district office.

"His first duty was his work," said his mother Edna.

And on Tuesday, he was honored for the method in which he performed his work.

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