INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – They gathered to remember the life of a man who answered the call of duty and never shied away from it.
An estimated 2,000 people came to Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday to remember the life of Lt. Aaron Allan, who was killed while responding to a crash on Thursday, July 27. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Allan served in the Air Force and was also a volunteer for both the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. He joined the Southport Police Department in 2011 and later became the department’s first full-time paid officer.
A neon blue line circled the interior of the basketball arena as IMPD Chaplain Pat Holman observed that the figurative blue line that encircles officers and protects society was damaged last week.
Speakers during Saturday’s public memorial service included Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, Southport Mayor Russell McClure, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn.
“On behalf of an eternally grateful state, we offer our deepest condolences,” said Holcomb during his remarks. He spoke of Allan’s dedication to his family and community. After his remarks, he paused in front of Allan’s casket and then personally offered his condolences to Allan’s widow, Stacy.
“What an amazing guy,” Donnelly said of Allan. “What an incredible person.”
Donnelly recalled Allan’s “constant devotion” to everything from the Indiana School for the Deaf to the Indiana State Fair, where he gave CPR and saved a person’s life. He called Allan a “devout volunteer” who believed in community policing.
“You just looked at him, and you could see the smile on his face,” Donnelly told the audience, calling Allan a “hero of Indiana.”
McClure, Southport’s mayor, said Allan had a lighter side. Sometimes, he said, they threw candy at one another “for no reason.”
“You’d walk in and get hit with a police of chocolate,” McClure recalled.
McClure choked back tears as he spoke about Allan, referring to him as a friend and dedicated professional.
“He also had a serious side. He would want us to focus on the goals of our departments. He would want us to stay focused on our commitment to the safety and well-being of those around us.”
He said Allan was committed to making a difference.
“Police are not buildings or vehicles or equipment. Police departments are people. Police departments are the men and women who selflessly serve their communities with integrity,” McClure said. “Police departments are people like Lt. Allan. We are all hurting. The loss has cut us to the core, but it has also strengthened our resolve.”
McClure says he’s “confident God will use this tragedy for good.”
Hogsett, Indianapolis’ mayor, said no one will forget Allan or his sacrifice.
“May we all live with increasing devotion to the memory of Lt. Allan,” Hogsett said. “May we all be a little more like this good man.”
Vaughn, Southport’s police chief, talked about the bond between Allan and his family.
“Stacy, Allan loved you and the boys with all his heart. Stacy, T.J., Aaron Jr.—I want you to know that we support you guys from here on now. You’re part of the family whether you want to be or not,” Vaughn said.
Like others who spoke, Vaughn tried to contain his emotions during his remarks.
Allan’s colleagues provided one of the most poignant moments of the service. Sgt. Chris Berry, standing in solidarity with Deputy Lonnie Helton, Deputy Robert Lane and Lt. John Livingston of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, recalled his last lunch with the fallen officer.
“The last gift he gave me was his time. You see, I just had lunch with Allan about an hour before he was called to the scene of a car being flipped,” Berry said. “I didn’t know at the time, but it was our last meal. Our last time to talk. Our last time together. I think to that lunch and see it as a gift from God and from Allan.”
Berry said he feels fortunate to be one of the last people Allan spent time with before his death.
“Right before he took off, I said, ‘Love you, brother. Be safe.’ Had I known he was leaving, never to return, I would’ve tried my best to stop him, but he would’ve gone anyway. But that’s what he did—he lived his life to help and serve, so I think about the last time, those last moments, and God knew what he was doing. He wanted us to have one last conversation, one more chance to say, ‘Love you brother. Be safe.’”
Dr. Chris Holland with the Father’s House Church, the unofficial faith-based home of Marion County law enforcement, delivered the eulogy and message, bringing a hammer and chisel to the stage. Holland tapped the chisel several times with the hammer and told the story of Michelangelo and the sculpting of the statue David and the key to creating such a work is to chip away everything that doesn’t look like the finished product.
The pastor used the props to explain the career and life of Allan, who left the U.S. Air Force with a medical discharge in 1999 to begin an almost 20-year journey that would result in becoming the first full-time police officer ever hired in Southport.
"As a community, as a city, as a state and as a nation, thank you to Aaron, and thank you to all who have filled this room today that stand up to do what you do,” Holland said. “We need you on that blue line, and we want you on that blue line, and yes, we can handle the truth.”
Holland said justice stands on the shoulders of police officers.
“There are masses that stand for what this man died for and love the right things of God,” Holland said. “We’re praying that it shakes our hearts and shakes our minds and shakes our communities so that the moral fabric of a man’s heart leads him to do what’s right, not what’s wrong. And that we care more for one another than we care for ourselves, as our lieutenant so proudly and so desperately showed us.”
Lt. Bryan Wolfe with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department provided one of several musical tributes to the fallen officer. Wolfe sang “Amazing Grace” and “The Policeman’s Tribute.” Other songs played during the service included “Back to God” from Reba McEntire, “Boy” from Lee Brice and “You Raise Me Up” from Josh Groban.
At the conclusion of the service, the last photograph ever taken of Lt. Allan, on the last morning of his life, filled the video screens inside the Fieldhouse.
Taken from the back, it shows the police officer dad holding the hand of his five-year-old son as he walked to the bus stop headed to his first day of kindergarten.
A caption on the screen read, “Your super hero will always be by your side little man.”