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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paralyzed Kingsport Police Officer Passes Away At Home

‘He was such an inspiration. There is so much love and respect from our people and actually anybody that met him.’
— Police Chief Gale Osborne


KINGSPORT — A local police officer known for his “heart as big as the entire outdoors” was found dead in his home Sunday night.
According to Kingsport Police Chief Gale Osborne, Marvin Bell, 44, appears to have died of natural causes. Bell was a 20-year veteran of the Kingsport Police Department, serving in patrol and investigations until six years ago.
That’s when a tree stand he was hunting from broke, sending him to the forest floor below. He suffered a severed spinal cord and was left paralyzed from the upper abdomen down.
“You would think a lot of people would give up, especially when they were so athletically inclined to start with,” Osborne said. “But he didn’t. His attitude was absolutely fantastic. He refused to give up and was determined to come back to work.”
And work Bell did, fighting through his disability to find a niche as the KPD’s intelligence o f f i c e r.
“He was just awesome, not just at being a good community policeman with a good attitude, but he was a real good investigator,” Osborne said of Bell, who also worked the KPD’s sexual offender registry. “Because he was such a people person, people would share a lot of information with him.”
“Intelligence is the basis for everything we do, and he gathered that data,” Osborne said.
Osborne said Bell’s upbeat attitude and determination served as motivation for everyone on the force, helping put their lives and troubles in perspective when needed.
“Marvin would have to get up several hours before anyone else would, just to get ready for the day and come to work,” Osborne said. “He was such an inspiration. There is so much love and respect from our people, and actually anybody that met him.”
Osborne called Bell “the perfect ambassador” for the police department and said the staff will have a rough period of adjustment with him gone.
“People are in shock, and we’ve asked everyone to please pray for his family and everybody that loved him,” Osborne said.
Arrangements have yet to be made for Bell’s funeral.