LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Highway 589 in Lamar County has a new sign naming a stretch of the road the Benjamin J. Deen Memorial Highway.
The sign went up in early September after the Deen family, community members and friends worked to re-name the stretch for the fallen Hattiesburg police officer. Deen was serving as a Hattiesburg Police Department officer when he and fellow HPD officer Liquori Tate were shot and killed during a traffic stop in 2015.
For Mary Ellen, Deen’s mother, the memorial sign on Highway 589 brings up emotions from the day she lost her son.
“You knew there was always danger there, but you didn’t really think it would happen in our city," she said. “So it was just a complete shock and we’ve pretty much been in a fog since that night. He was just a very special son, a special man, a special dad.”
Dan Deen, officer Deen’s father, had the idea in the fall of 2019 to dedicate a stretch of highway to his son. The family had seen similar signs across the state and wanted to honor Benjamin in his hometown. With the help of Sumrall native and Mississippi Sen. Joey Fillingane and the Lamar County Board of Supervisors, the Mississippi legislature passed the bill for the memorial highway.
“And in no time at all, we had this," Dan Deen said. “And we are just so thankful for doing this so that people will know what he did because he tried to make a difference in Hattiesburg.”
The sign is located on Highway 589 in Lamar County near Victory Road.
Fillingane lives in the area and brought the bill for the highway to Jackson.
“I think it’s great. There are so many of the local people that know the family, that knew officer Deen and knew what a not only a family man, community man, but law enforcement officer that he was in our area,” Fillingane said. "Of course, he was serving at the time of his death in the city of Hattiesburg, but he was born and raised out in our community in Sumrall.”
Officer Deen’s son, Walker, says driving by the sign is one of the many ways he remembers his dad.
“I remember him being a really good person, that’s definitely for sure.” he said. "I remember him being funny, I’ve tried to keep going on that, I try to be funny.”
And the family hopes that everyone who drives by the sign will continue to remember Benjamin J. Deen.