Boone Co. comes together to support fallen officers; ‘It means a lot and it helps fill a hole that can never be filled’

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LEBANON — It is National Police Week and communities across the country are taking time to honor the sacrifices made by fallen law enforcement officers in the line of duty. 

The family of fallen IMPD Officer Breann Leath will be in our nations capital. 

Smaller events are taking place here at home, including Boone County’s Law Enforcement Memorial & Appreciation ceremony.

The annual event typically takes place in May but the ongoing battle with COVID-19 pushed it to Monday night. There were plans for a candle light vigil and light show along the course square sidewalk but the rain canceled them. 

The success of the event, which was moved inside the county courthouse, proved it’ll take more than a little rain to dampen the appreciation for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

“It means a lot to all of us and it helps to fill a hole that’s never going to be filled,” Father of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett Marlin Pickett said. ”We like to keep our sons name going and Boone County has, they’ve done very great job of doing that and the support’s just wonderful.”

Since the loss of Deputy Pickett in 2018, Boone County has been searching for a ‘new normal’ of their own.

“Out of the ashes always beauty will rise and we’ve got to make sure that we’re all hopeful that things will change and I’m very hopeful that things will change and get better,” Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said. “We do live in a world of hate right now but when you go downstairs and you can see all the smiles and all the hugs and all the hand shakes and all the appreciation that the community is giving us today, it really brings things back into perspective.”

Sheriff Nielsen believes community support drives the positive change, you could see it in action Monday night. 

“This turned out really cool,” Boone County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wesley Garst who organized the event said. “We envisioned a community presence which is one of our mission statements is unity. All caps, because it’s very important.”

The event not only honored Deputy Pickett but also Trooper Richard Gerald Brown, Master Trooper Michael Earl Greene and Sheriff John H. Pepper. 

“These gentlemen, they left families behind and so it’s that much more important that we remember those fallen so therefore we can support those families as they still grieve those lost loved ones,” Garst said. “They put their lives on the line for you and me. They didn’t have to do that so to do such a selfless act it’s worth of all the praise that we can possibly give and we learned from those experiences.”

The timing of the event in Boone County mirrors others being held in our nations capital. 

Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder is traveling to Washington D.C. where several Central Indiana fallen heroes will be honored including:

  • City Marshal Joseph C. Fishback Sr. • Cannelton Police Department • November 8, 1900
  • Detective Sergeant Te’Juan Fontrese Johnson • Charlestown Police Department • December 2, 2020
  • Officer Breann Rochelle Leath • Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department • April 9, 2020
  • Officer Kenneth Reid Lester • Richmond Police Department • February 10, 2020

“It’s a week of honors for the fallen officers but it’s also a week of support, classes, debriefings and counseling’s, for family members of fallen officers,” Snyder said. “Here in Indianapolis and in Indiana, we’re blessed. We have a lot of great support for our families right here but many of these families, this may the first time they’ve even been able to talk to anyone about what they’ve experienced.”

From the District of Columbia to the county of Boone, the support from the community for fallen officers means the world to their families. 

“It means so much to us,” Pickett said. “And I’m sure it does to other families also. I can’t say enough good things about the support we’ve received.”

Law enforcement agencies met with community members at 6 p.m. over food and refreshments in the county courthouse rotunda. A multi-agency honor guard, guest speakers and presentations captivated the crowd, and it was all free of charge. 

“These gentlemen, they left families behind and so it’s that much more important that we remember those fallen so therefore we can support those families as they still grieve those lost loved ones,” Garst said. “They put their lives on the line for you and me. They didn’t have to do that so to do such a selfless act it’s worth of all the praise that we can possibly give and we learned from those experiences.”

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