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Service honors 6 who died in line of duty

Service honors 6 who died in line of duty
Service honors 6 who died in line of duty
Six candles, representing police officers in the Fraternal Order of Police Wyandotte Lodge area, shine through the front window of the FOP Lodge, renamed after Frank C. Denzinger, who was killed in June 2007, Sunday evening after a memorial service to mark the start of National Police Week. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor (click for larger version)

Members of the Fraternal Order of Police Frank C. Denzinger Lodge, located in Crandall, gathered with family and friends to remember the six police officers in the area who have been killed in the line of duty.
Bill Wibbels, a detective with the Indiana State Police Sellersburg post and president of the Lodge, conducted the service that took place in the Lodge parking lot. Although the rain that had fallen much of the day gave way for the service, a strong breeze made lighting candles during the memorial service difficult.
‘These candles represent the six lives of those who gave their life for their country and area,’ Wibbels said.
Peace Officers Memorial Day, on May 15, was started in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Now, the date has grown to become National Police Week, with a series of events held in Washington, D.C., and attracting thousands of law enforcement officers.
In Crandall, Wibbels read the names of the deceased prior to having a candle lit in their memory.
First was William Gresham, who was serving as Harrison County sheriff when he was stabbed to death while attempting to serve an arrest warrant. Gresham, who was in his first term as sheriff, died immediately on Jan. 26, 1834.
Officer Marty McClanahan of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department lit the candle for Gresham.
Next was Otto A. Welch, who was a patrolman with the New Albany Police Department, when his police motorcycle struck the rear of a vehicle that had come to a sudden stop. Welch, who had been with the police department for five years, was thrown from the motorcycle and died instantly on Dec. 15, 1922.
Sam Sarkisian from the Indiana State Police lit the candle for Welch.
Wibbels said the next officer killed in the line of duty was Deputy Daniel Alonzo Mayfield of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department. He died Jan. 24, 1926, after being shot while attempting to apprehend six bank robbery suspects in New Albany at about 4 a.m. The men allegedly had robbed a bank in Lanesville before traveling to New Albany.
Mayfield’s candle was lit by Det. Jeff Firkins of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department.
Eleven years later, on March 18, 1957, ISP First Sgt. Marvin E. Walts was shot and killed by another bank robbery suspect. Walts, who was from Milltown, was shot during a traffic stop at about 1:15 p.m. in Clark County. The killer was a suspect in a bank robbery in Sellersburg. Walts had been with the state police for 19-1/2 years and was planning to retire in six months.
ISP Trooper Chris Tucker lit a candle for Walts.
Nearly 10 years passed before another law enforcement officer in the tri-county area was killed.
William Kieser, who had been an ISP trooper for nearly seven years and was an officer with the Tell City Police Department prior to that, was killed March 9, 1965, while responding to the call of a drunk and disorderly man near Ramsey. Kieser was off-duty when he heard the dispatch and notified dispatch that, because he was closer than the officer in route, he would respond. When Kieser arrived, the suspect opened fire on Kieser before he could exit his cruiser. The trooper returned fire but dropped his weapon after being struck in the hand. The suspect continued to fire and fatally wounded Kieser.
His candle was lit by ISP Trooper Josh Orme.
The last officer’s name to be read was Frank C. Denzinger, who was killed June 18, 2007, in a similar manner as Kieser.
Denzinger and Joel White, both officers with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department, responded to a domestic disturbance between a mother and son in the Edwardsville area. Upon the officers’ arrival, the 15-year-old son ambushed the officers from an upstairs window of the home. Denzinger died that day from his wounds. He had been with the sheriff’s department for four years.
‘It’s a miracle Joel didn’t die, too,’ Wibbels said.
Denzinger’s parents, Frank and Pat Denzinger, lit the sixth candle.
‘I hope it will be another 40 years or more before we have another’ line-of-duty death, Wibbels said near the conclusion of the ceremony, which included a moment of silence.
‘Bless the families here today who have lost loved ones,’ Wibbels prayed, ‘and the police officers here today. Keep them in your thoughts and memories.’
Six white crosses have been placed on the lawn near the Lodge and will remain there the rest of the week.
After the ceremony, everyone was invited inside the Lodge, which was a branch of First Harrison Bank, until the location closed and was basically donated to the FOP, for dessert and fellowship.