Editor's note: The following is a letter from Tim Martin, deputy Indianapolis police chief, to city residents about their response to the death of Indianapolis police Officer Timothy "Jake" Laird, who was killed Aug. 18 by a gunman on the city's southeast side.
To the citizens of Indianapolis:
As the deputy chief of the Indianapolis Police Department's South District, the district where Officer Timothy "Jake" Laird served the citizens of Indianapolis, and ultimately lost his life protecting those same citizens, I sincerely want to express my gratitude for the outpouring of support by the people of Indianapolis, and particularly the residents of the South District. I have been a member of the Indianapolis Police Department for 40 years. During that time I have witnessed the loss of several Indianapolis police officers in the line of duty. While there has always been community support after these tragic instances, I have never witnessed such a response of this magnitude. From the moment the public was made aware of the death of Officer Jake Laird, and the wounding of Officers Tim Conley, Pete Koe, Andrew Troxell and Leon Essig, there was a steady stream of phone calls, e-mails, cards, and personal visits from people expressing their condolences and shared sense of loss. Many made offers of services, goods, or their personal time to assist the family of Officer Laird and the families of the wounded officers. Flowers, cards, letters and food began arriving at South District. Citizens would approach officers and offer a kind word of support and sympathy. After we placed Officer Laird's marked patrol car in front of the South District offices, a steady stream of people respectfully began placing items on it. Even after the funeral, people are still stopping by to either add new items, or to just quietly and reverently stand and look at it. The memorial stickers that are being sold to raise money for a trust fund for Kaylee Laird, Jake's daughter, are being bought as fast as they can be printed.
I think that there might be several reasons for such a showing of support and concern. After the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy, there has been a renewed respect for the job our police officers do on a daily basis. Secondly, the magnitude of this tragedy, where a deadly assault weapon was used to terrorize a neighborhood, kill one officer, and wound four others, shocked us all. It also dramatically reminded everyone of the willingness of these officers to place their lives on the line to protect our neighborhoods and the people who live there. Finally, since the advent of the community policing philosophy, the relationship between the police department and members of the community has evolved to the point that the citizens see the officers as being "their" officers. This is no more evident than on the South District. The members of this community expressed a feeling of personal loss over the death of Officer Jake Laird. If there is anything positive that can be gleaned from this tragedy, it is the realization that the community and the police department have truly become partners.
Again, the officers and personnel of the South District, and I personally, thank you for your support, your caring, and your offers of assistance during this most trying of times.
Tim Martin Deputy Chief Indianapolis Police Department
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