TERRE HAUTE —
The dedication of the centerpiece of a future memorial at the Terre Haute Police Department highlighted a somber yet uplifting ceremony Thursday morning at the THPD headquarters.
A statue of fallen Officer Brent Long and his K-9 partner Shadow now stand watch beneath the American flag in the parking lot at THPD. A large crowd of THPD officers, staff and supporters gathered for the National Police Memorial Week ceremony, which honored 12 THPD officers killed in the line of duty.
“We will never forget their service or sacrifice,” Chief John Plasse said, explaining that the statue of Long and Shadow will be permanently placed at the front of a new THPD headquarters now in the planning stages. The names of all fallen officers will also be placed on memorial markers around the statute.
“For now, he’s a permanent reminder of what our officers face,” Plasse said of the Long statue, which has drawn many comments for its lifelike portrayal of Long.
“Just looking in his eyes, sometimes it opens the wound again, and you realize Brent’s not here,” Plasse said.
Long died July 11, 2011, after he and Shadow worked on a federal fugitive task force to serve a warrant on a suspect who had hidden behind a false wall at a North Eighth Street residence. After the suspect fired a gun at Long and Shadow, Long was able to return fire, but died of his injuries. Shadow has recovered from a gunshot wound to the jaw, but has been retired from service.
Mayor Duke Bennett read a proclamation declaring May 12-18 as Police Week in the City of Terre Haute in honor of law enforcement officers and their day-to-day challenge of protecting the community.
“This dedication is important to not only remember Brent, but also other officers who were lost,” Mayor Bennett said in making the proclamation.
A color guard of THPD officers, accompanied by the Vigo County Veterans Honor Guard, somberly changed the American flag outside the police station and saluted fallen officers from the department in the annual tribute.
The THPD Color Guard will be traveling to Washington, D.C., next week for the National Police Week events.
Plasse said that being a police officer is increasingly dangerous, and he encouraged officers to remain vigilant and to watch out for each other.
Violent events such as the Newtown school massacre and the Boston Marathon terror attack are not as distant from this community as people might think, he said. Recently, local police found an explosive device designed to injure police concealed in a suspect’s pocket.
As the ceremony concluded Thursday morning, a light rain began to fall. Plasse linked the rainfall to Long and the memorial ceremony.
“Perhaps those are Brent’s tears from heaven,” Plasse said, “showing his approval and wishing he was here with us.”
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.