Rainstorms drove this year’s annual Police Memorial and Appreciation Event inside and made the gathering more intimate than it may have been.
The weather also nixed an outdoor meet-and-greet hour planned with the community and officers from all Boone County agencies. But refreshments for that event moved inside, and the public and officers found donuts, cookies, hot dogs and piping-hot pizza, awaiting during the hour before the memorial service.
Civilian guests, including family of Boone County’s fallen officers, mingled with officials who also came from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana State Police, the Boone County Prosecutors Office and other agencies.
The annual memorial service in recognition of National Peace Officers Memorial Day usually takes place during the day on May 15 but was postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers moved it to a nighttime event to allow more members of the public to attend.
“This event is for us to gather with you in unity,” Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Wesley Garst told civilians and law enforcement officials packed into the courthouse rotunda. “It’s important for you (the public) to know that we draw strength from your support.”
Thorntown Marshal Frank Clark and Jamestown Marshal Aaron Clapp read the names and circumstances surrounding the deaths of Boone County’s four fallen officers, Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Pickett, Indiana State Police Master Sgt. Michael Greene, Indiana State Trooper Richard Brown, and Boone County Sheriff John Peper.
Clapp’s father, New Richmond Marshal Richard ‘Mark’ Clapp, suffered a fatal heart attack after a violent struggle with a 17-year-old domestic violence suspect in December 2003. Aaron Clapp, a Montgomery County Jail officer at the time, was with his father on that call.
The teen was convicted of battery and resisting law enforcement. Aaron Clapp cuffed him with his dad’s handcuffs and led him to jail after sentencing.
Lebanon Boy Scout Troop 359 led the Pledge of Allegiance at Monday’s ceremony. A multi-agency color guard presented the United States Flag, and a multi-agency team placed the memorial wreath. A Zionsville High School student sang the National Anthem and Western Boone and Lebanon high school students trumpeted Taps, a bagpiper played from the second-floor balcony, and Garst led the gathering in an a cappella round of “Amazing Grace.”
Boone County Sheriff’s Maj. Brian Stevenson presented National Law Enforcement statistics during Monday’s police officers memorial in Lebanon.
There are more than 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers, the highest number ever, serving in the United States.
· According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report 2019: there were 58,170 assaults against law enforcement officers (includes federal, state, and local agencies) in 2019, resulting in 17,560 injuries.
· There are 22,611 names engraved in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
· The deadliest day in law enforcement history was Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers died while responding to terrorist attacks on America.
· The 1920s were the deadliest decade in law enforcement history, when 2,529 officers, an average of nearly 253 per year, died. The average dropped 160 per year in the 1990s. The deadliest single year in law enforcement history was 1930, when 312 officers were killed.
· In 2020, 231 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, and the number so far this year stands at 229. Of those deaths, firearms-related fatalities rose by 22%, and traffic related deaths rose by 31%.
Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen, the evening’s last presenter, spoke of caring for fallen officers’ families, calling the fallen warriors and comparing them to those who serve in, or give their lives in, military service. Nielsen said that when warriors are gone off to war, or when they die, law enforcement cares for their families at home.
Nielsen closed with a prayer for peace and unity in the community.
Boone County officers who have died in the line of duty include:
Jacob Matthew Picket
Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy ‘Jake’ Pickett, 34, succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained March 2, 2018, while aiding the Lebanon Police Department in a manhunt.
Three men fled police when LPD went to a Lebanon home to serve a warrant. Pickett and his K-9 partner pursued one suspect who shot Pickett as he rounded a corner of an apartment building on foot.
Pickett was taken to Witham Health Services and then flow to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis where he was kept on life support until March 5 so his organs could be donated.
His assailant pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Pickett’s parents and other family members were at Monday’s memorial service.
Michael Earl Greene
Indiana State Police Master Trooper Michael Earl Greene, 43, was fatally shot Feb. 5, 1993, by one of two men he saw urinating along Interstate 65 just south of Boone County.
Both were wanted on outstanding warrants, and one suspect shot Greene as he handcuffed the other suspect. The shooter was sentenced to death but died in prison in 2007. The other was convicted of reckless homicide and has since been released from prison.
Greene’s daughter-in-law, Annie Greene, was at Monday’s ceremony with her daughters. Annie is a crime scene investigator for the Whitestown Police Department. Her husband, Michael Greene, a former Boone County Deputy, was working as a Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Monday night.
Richard Gerald Brown
Indiana State Police Trooper Richard Brown, 40, was investigating an accident Sept. 27, 1967, when another vehicle struck and killed him on Interstate 74 between Jamestown and Lizton.
Brown left behind four children, including Boone County Assessor Lisa Garoffolo, who was only 12 years old at the time.
The second accident also killed two others and critically injured one person.
Boone County Sheriff John Peper, 38, had held office only five weeks when he suffered fatal injuries from a crash on a sleet-covered road Feb. 7, 1935.
He and a deputy were responding to another accident on U.S. 52 just north of Lebanon when the car they were in lost control and flipped.
Peper’s wife was appointed as sheriff to serve the remainder of his term. She was Boone County’s first female sheriff and only the third to serve as sheriff in Indiana.