IMPD to honor 2004 sacrifice of Officer Jake Laird

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INDIANAPOLIS, In  (August 17, 2014) — It was at about two o’clock in the morning on Aug. 18, 2004, when a man suffering from mental illness began shooting up his south side neighborhood with a semi-automatic rifle.

One officer was already wounded, crying on the radio for help, when Patrolman Jake Laird pulled up on Dietz Street. He had only enough time to exit his car and take cover behind it when a high velocity round tore through the vehicle and fatally wounded the four-year patrol veteran.

“It takes a police officer to go towards the trouble and that’s just what their job is and in our particular case Jake heard his best friend calling for help and he immediately went there,” said Mike Laird, Jake’s dad. “I mean, none of them hesitate. They’re all that way.”

Jake’s mother Debbie sat by her husband’s side.

“Even though it cost him his life, I’m so proud of him that he had the courage and the integrity to do what he was supposed to do.”

When it was over, Charles 421 was dead, and so was the gunman, and three other officers were wounded.

In the wake of Laird’s death, the General Assembly passed “Jake’s Law” which essentially made it easier for police officers to seize the weapons of the mentally ill and require a judge’s order to have them released.

“We’ve had calls from a number of officers over the years who tell us, ‘Hey, we used Jake’s law tonight,'” said Debbie,  “so I’m sure it has helped.”

Monday at 1:30 p.m. IMPD will pay honor to the memory of Jake Laird with a ceremony at the department’s Southeast District headquarters in Fountain Square.

The 11th Annual Jake Laird Memorial Golf Outing will be held at Pebble Brook Golf Club Friday as friends and supporters of the slain officer will raise money for police and fire departments across Indiana.

The event has raised $380,000 over the last ten years.

The Lairds said every time a Metro officer is killed or wounded in the line of duty, it brings back memories of Jake’s sacrifice and sorrow for the families who are receiving the same phone call they took ten years ago.

“We just understand that pain that they’re in and there’s nothing we can do to help them and we can just pray for them,” said Debbie.

“I understand that people are going to think he gave his life for the city,” said Mike.  “He got out of his car and helped his buddies but that’s just part of it. There’s a lot more to it.

“I think their everyday activities are part of their legacy. The stories we hear about Jake are on a different level like helping a kid find his bicycle. Things he never told us.”

Jake Laird left behind a 7-year-old daughter.

She’s 17 now and her grandfather proudly shows off a photo on his cell phone of Jake’s daughter and her new used car.

Like Rod Bradway and David Moore and Perry Renn after him, IMPD officers who lost their lives in the line of duty responding to trouble, Jake Laird died because he got out of his car.

“We know that’s how they are,” said Mike.  “A person who’s not involved with the police department probably doesn’t realize that, but that’s just how they are. So that’s automatic for them.

“Its not a surprise to us.”