‘Sheepdogs’ honored at peace officers memorial
The Harrison County Prosecutor’s Office honored local police officers and their families May 21 during a ceremony for National Peace Officers Memorial Day at the Harrison County Justice Center in Corydon.
The keynote speaker for the event, Indiana Attorney General Gregory F. Zoeller, told a story of a police chase a few years back that ended with an Indiana State Police trooper head-butting the fleeing suspect.
‘I’m not sure where it is in the manual, but the police officer administered the state trooper head-butt,’ Zoeller said.
Believe it or not, the suspect sued the trooper, he said, and the insurance company and some with the state police legal team wanted to settle the case because it would cost more to defend it than what the defendant was seeking.
‘I said it was not honoring the police officer to pay the defendant that they had to chase and put in prison,’ Zoeller said. ‘So, we went to court.’
Zoeller said it took three days to argue the case and the jury was only out for 10 minutes before ruling in favor of the officer.
‘We’ve had fewer of those cases because we’re willing to defend the men and women that defend us,’ he said. ‘Not all lawyers look at law enforcement in the same way your attorney general does.’
Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye also spoke, quoting a book by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman about what a Vietnam veteran and retired colonel once told him about law enforcement officers.
The murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, Seelye said, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year, meaning the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.
Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes each year, he said, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of a violent crime is considerably less than one in 100 in any given year.
‘Most of the people in our society are sheep; they are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident … ‘ Seelye said. ‘Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world, and they are capable of evil deeds.’
Seelye said law enforcement officers are the sheepdogs, living to protect the flock and confront the wolf.
‘We intimidate those who intimidate others,’ he said.
Before turning the podium over to Harrison County Chaplain Richard (Dick) Goodwin for a closing prayer, Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk spoke to the 40 to 50 folks gathered around the front entrance area of the Justice Center.
‘Not only are we here to honor those police officers that have given the ultimately sacrifice, but we’re here to honor all law enforcement officers,’ he said. ‘There’s no greater group of individuals that are more deserving of recognition than those brave men and women that are standing in front of me today that are willing to do whatever it takes to keep Harrison County safe.’
Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Gilley was named the 2015 Police Officer of the Year.
Pastor Tim Johnson read from the Bible and offered prayer, and Emily Poe Stumler played the national anthem on the violin.
May 15 was established as Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, to honor federal, state and municipal officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Each year, the president calls on Americans to fly flags at half-staff on May 15.
Schalk has had a ceremony each year since he was elected to office in 2010.