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Honoring the fallen

WATCH: Indiana State Police troopers stand watch during a ceremony for fallen officers and civilian employees on Wednesday.

by PAIGE CONLEY, pconley - perutribune.com

PERU — The Indiana State Police Peru Post honored fallen comrades during the agency’s annual memorial service on May 9 in Peru.

Forty-six ISP employees have died in the line of duty since the department’s opening in 1933. Forty-three of those employees were ISP troopers, while another three were civilian employees, ISP Sgt. Tony Slocum said.

Four troopers from the Peru District have died in the line of duty.

The first was Sergeant Glen R. Hosier, who died from a gunshot wound he received while attempting to arrest a murder suspect on April 26, 1971.

Next was Trooper Robert J. Lather II, who died on July 6, 1982 when a traffic violator drove a car into Lather’s police vehicle on U.S. 31 in Miami County.  Lather had been assisting Howard County Sheriff’s Department in their pursuit of the violator.

On July 5, 2007, Master Trooper and Detective David E. Rich died from a gunshot wound he received from a motorist he had stopped to help alongside U.S. 24. And on January 27, 2008, Trooper Daniel R. Barret was killed when his vehicle struck a tree. He had been pursuing a speeing vehicle on U.S. 31 in northern Fulton County.

The ceremony was held ahead of National Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week, declared on May 15 by former president John F. Kennedy.

“We take May and use that as our time to remember the 46 fallen State Police employees,” Slocum said.

This year, the memorial service also remembered Terre Haute police officer Rob Pitts, who died on May 4 after exchanging gun fire with a homicide suspect. The suspect was also killed in the standoff.

“Even though we do the ceremony for our own, we don’t forget about other departments and their officers killed in the line of duty,” Slocum explained.

During the ceremony, ISP Peru Post District Commander Lieutenant Jeremy Kelly and Area I Commander Dave Kirkham read the name of each employee killed in the line of duty.

“This is not about how they died, it’s about how these people lived their lives and the respectful manner in which they served their communities and died doing so,” Slocum said.

“We are that line of defense between good and evil,” said Peru Police Department Chief Meeks. “We are always there for them (the community) and trying to protect them. I think it’s important we recognize that they made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Meeks and other PPD officers stood with ISP troopers in a sign of solidarity during the ceremony.

“We cannot, obviously, repay that debt,” Slocum said, “but one thing we can do is let their families know that their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”