(LaPorte, IN) - The 14 police officers killed in the line of duty in LaPorte County history went over the airwaves Friday in more ways than one. The annual heavily attended ceremony hosted by the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office on National Peace Officers Memorial Day was canceled due to COVID-19.
However, the officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice were still honored by having their names announced on all major emergency radio frequencies used in the county.
Sheriff John Boyd said the reading by dispatcher Lisa Haferkamp lasting about 90 seconds began at 10:42 a.m. 10-42 in emergency radio code means “end of duty.”
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t allow the day to pass without recognizing them,” Boyd said.
In recent years, the ceremony featuring the presentation of colors, playing of taps, and a guest speaker from law enforcement has rotated between the LaPorte County Complex and the auditorium at the former Elston High School in Michigan City.
“Obviously, with the COVID-19 we simply could not do that,” Boyd said. Mike Kellems, a retired LaPorte County Police officer now working law enforcement for Purdue University Northwest, rang the bell at Bethany Lutheran Church to pay tribute to the fallen officers.
He pulled up and down on the rope fastened to the bell in the tower for two minutes at the church in LaPorte. “It’s an incredible honor to be able to do this,” Kellems said.
Pastor Dennis Meyer has been ringing the bell every Friday since March to honor the efforts of medical and emergency responders during the COVID-19 crisis. Meyer said adding the fallen officers to the cause was a perfect match. “Think of all of the people who’ve sacrificed their lives and families in some cases have suffered so much and we want to honor them,” he said.
Peace Officers Memorial Day was created by an act of Congress signed by President John F. Kennedy on October 1, 1962.
The 14 officers killed in LaPorte County were:
Charles Silversides, Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, July 12, 1909.
Joseph Zimmerman, Michigan City Police Department, May 3, 1921.
George Spencer, Michigan City Police Department, May 3, 1921.
William “Ray” Dixon, Indiana State Police, June 28, 1938.
Charles Glafcke, Michigan City Police Department, December 4, 1930.
Ephraim Reid, Long Beach Police Department, September 15, 1933.
Earle Platt, Long Beach Police Department, October 25, 1956.
Thomas Ciecka, LaPorte Police Department, September 5, 1962.
Lewis Phillips, Indiana State Police, April 16, 1975.
Harold Rice, Indiana Department of Corrections, December 29, 1976.
Neil Thompson, LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, September 21, 1980.
Richard Lawrence, LaPorte Police Department, September 9, 1988.
Phillip Curry, Indiana Department of Corrections, December 13, 1994.
James Kautz, Long Beach Police Department, December 4, 1997.