TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — In recognition of National Police Week, past and current law enforcement joined members of the community Monday to honor the lives of fallen Vigo County officers.
Outside the current Terre Haute Police Department headquarters, the names of 19 fallen officers from both THPD. and the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department were read aloud.
Both agencies said this 25-plus-year tradition is crucial to continuing the legacy of those who served the community.
For Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse, on that list were two names that carried extra weight for him.
Officer Brent Long and Officer Rob Pitts.
“Those are guys that I worked with and those are guys, not taking anything from the ones before. But, I saw what they (Long and Pitts) did everyday. I saw their impact, I saw how much of a difference they made. I knew them personally, loved them, and worked with them. It really hurts when you lose someone like that, that you love,” Plasse said.
More than 100 years separate the first fallen officer from the most recent one, Officer Pitts; however, Terre Haute Police Chief Shawn Keen said the name of every fallen officer is equally important.
“We all remember them the same; they all gave the sacrifice. Again, whether it was 100 years ago or a few years ago. If we ever forget that, we forget ourselves. That’s why it’s so important,” Keen said.
Officers were commemorated with prayer, a 21 gun salute, ceremonial flag fold and the playing of TAPS. Each officer was individually named with their end of watch date, honoring their service and community involvement.
“It means a lot to me when I read those each time. It puts them in context,” Keen said, “These are real people. These weren’t people in a distant land, they were from our community,”
Plasse added that he hopes that list of 19 names doesn’t grow.
“I wish there were none on that list. I pray to God we don’t add anymore either,” Plasse said.
Keen said the next fallen officer ceremony will take place at the new THPD headquarters, which will feature a monument and memorial that will include these 19 names and the names of fallen members of the Terre Haute Fire Department. A statue of Officer Pitts will also be on display.
Below is the full list of of fallen Vigo County officers:
- Deputy John Cleary, Age 48, End of Watch April 9, 1892.
- Chief of Detectives William Dwyer, Age 47, End of Watch April 2, 1908
- Deputy Peter Feiler, Age 31, End of Watch November 13, 1914
- Detective Matthew Dorley, Age 52, End of Watch January 23, 1919
- Patrolman Herbert Long, Age 37, End of Watch February 9, 1922
- Detective Stephen Kendall, Age 42, End of Watch January 23, 1924
- Patrolman Harry Borum, Age 30, End of Watch November 23, 1924
- Patrolman Herman Harms, Age 31, End of Watch January 25, 1925
- Patrolman Walter Lanfair , Age 45, End of Watch August 3, 1934
- Chief Deputy Paul Mankin, Age 40, End of Watch July 16, 1936.
- Patrolman Wayne Jones, Age 35, End of Watch June 25, 1951
- Detective Clarence Thompson, Age 42, End of Watch March 8, 1964
- Detective Sergeant James Utz, Age 40, End of Watch September 15, 1981
- Detective Harold Rogers, Age 46, End of Watch June 16, 1984
- Sergeant Kevin Artz, Age 32, End of Watch July 1, 1987
- Correctional Officer Aaron Schoffstall, Age 24, End of Watch Nov 28, 2000
- Special Deputy Enrico Garcia, Age 44, End of Watch September 23, 2007
- K9 Officer Brent Long, Age 34, End of Watch July 11, 2011
- Officer Robert (Rob) Pitts, Age 45, End of Watch May 4, 2018.