FORT WAYNE – Area police, public officials and members of the public gathered at an annual memorial ceremony Friday to remember officers who have died in the line of duty.
While perhaps 50 uniformed officers and another 50 civilians looked on, the names of 10 officers going back to 1907 were read aloud during the ceremony at the Law Enforcement/Firefighters Memorial of Allen County on Wells Street.
Mayor Tom Henry said to be thankful to the officers isn’t enough. The public also needs to be thankful to the families of police officers, too, for the tremendous sacrifice that they make.
People don’t realize how much you have to put up with, Henry said.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York, noting that police have been involved in nine shootings since January, said the streets are becoming more dangerous for law enforcement. Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries also commented that increasingly public officials are being targeted.
York, meanwhile, noted that Master Sgt. Kenneth Hayden will be recognized next week, having his name inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. His name will be added to the local memorial next year.
Hayden, a Fort Wayne police officer, was shot in the leg in 1974 while responding to a robbery at a liquor store on Fairfield Avenue. He recovered but later his leg broke in the same spot where he had been shot. It was determined that he had developed cancer, which had spread through his body. Hayden died in 1989 at 41. Only recently was his death classified as duty related.
In the crowd, were a handful of people wearing T-shirts bearing the saying, The wicked flee when no man pursueth, But the righteous are bold as a lion. That was followed by the date 4-3-13 and the letters EOW.
The EOW stands for end of watch, and the date refers to the date that the father of a Fort Wayne woman, Julie Hall, was shot to death while on duty in Mingo County, W.Va.
According to Joey Hall, Julie Hall’s husband, Eugene Crum had vowed to clean up the drug problem in the county and had obtained 70 drug indictments even though he had been in office only 93 days.
On April 3, someone shot him to death as he sat in his police car, eating his lunch.
Julie Hall, asked to speak at the ceremony, said that her father went to work every day, but she never knew what he did. It was only after his death that people came forward and told her tales of the things he had done for them.