Fayette County

Retired Lexington police detective dies of pancreatic cancer

Remembering Detective Phillip Harrison

Lexington Police Sgt. Billy Richmond and Public Safety Commissioner Ronnie Bastin discuss Detective Phillip Harrison.
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Lexington Police Sgt. Billy Richmond and Public Safety Commissioner Ronnie Bastin discuss Detective Phillip Harrison.

Retired Lexington police Detective Phillip Harrison died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer, according to the department. He was 52.

Harrison was a 19-year veteran with the department, according to a GoFundMe page created for his family. The page has raised more than $63,000.

“Phillip was a great officer and father, a genuine person with a unique sense of humor,” Lexington police Chief Mark Barnard said. “He had a wonderful ability to relate and connect with everyone, from the people Phillip encountered through his work to his closest friends. Phillip cared about this community, and he will be truly missed.”

Since Harrison started with the department in 1996, he received 22 letters of appreciation, four professional service awards, a professional esteem award and a unit citation, according to Lexington police.

He spent time working in patrol, with a U.S. Marshals task force, in the residential burglary unit, in the major violators unit and with the alcoholic beverage control unit before retiring in May.

Before he joined the police department, Harrison worked in the corrections division, according to police.

Police Sgt. Billy Richmond met Harrison when Harrison worked at the Fayette County jail. Harrison and Richmond were partners for almost two years on the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force. Richmond said Harrison was “an officer’s officer” who had a sharp wit, spoke his mind and tried to find the good in people.

Richmond said Harrison tried to spend time with many visitors who called, texted or visited during his illness.

Harrison is survived by his wife, Jana, and a 12-year-old daughter. Richmond said Harrison’s biggest concern during his illness was his family’s well-being.

When some in the police department started talking about creating the GoFundMe page for Harrison’s family, Richmond said Harrison did not like the idea at first, but he welcomed the support after other officers talked with him.

“Phillip was a very proud man, and it took some talking to some of his friends to persuade him, to say, ‘Hey, look. You’ve helped so many people throughout your career,’” Richmond said. Harrison often donated to other officers or their families who experienced hardships, Richmond said.

Funeral services have been set for Friday at Southland Christian Church on Richmond Road. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., and the funeral will follow at 2 p.m. Harrison will be buried at Blue Grass Memorial Gardens on Harrodsburg Road.

Lexington Public Safety Commissioner Ronnie Bastin said Mayor Jim Gray ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Friday in Harrison’s honor.

Lexington firefighter Matt Logsdon also died Wednesday; he was diagnosed earlier this year with stage four cancer.

Gray released a statement about both men: “The city lost two members of our public safety family today: Firefighter Matt Logsdon and Police Detective Phillip Harrison. Both put their lives on the line for their community. We honor their service and their sacrifice. And we offer our deepest sympathy to their families.”

Reporter McKenna Horsley contributed to this report.