GARY, Ind. (AP) — The daughter of the Gary police officer who was slain in his car thanked hundreds of officers for turning out Monday for his funeral, telling them he was someone special who always made her feel safe.
“I loved my dad,” said Allie Westerfield, daughter of Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield. “I know we had issues. Every parent and their kids have issues. But I always knew that if I really needed him, he would be there. But he’s gone.
“But I know that I have my Gary police department, like a hundred aunts and uncles that sometimes I want and sometimes I don’t. But I know you’re feeling just as hurt as I am,” she said.
Officers from Indiana, Illinois and elsewhere came to the Genesis Convention Center in Gary to pay their respects to Jeffrey Westerfield, who died early on July 6, his 47th birthday. Authorities have said a person of interest is being held in the Lake County Jail but no charges have been filed in the slaying.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly told family members that people throughout Indiana were heartbroken over Westerfield’s death and were praying for them.
“We want to thank you for your sorrow, your sacrifice, for his extraordinary service,” he said.
Donnelly described Westerfield as someone the people of Gary knew they could count on.
“Everybody in this town has a right to feel safe 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and Jeff tried to fulfill that commitment,” Donnelly said. “The neighbors knew he was on their side. They knew when they saw his face that they were safe and they were good to go.”
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann said three recent officer deaths, including Westerfield’s, show how dangerous the job of being a law enforcement officer is. Less than 12 hours before Westerfield was shot, Indianapolis police Officer Perry Renn was killed in a shootout with a man armed with an assault rifle. And on June 28, Tipton County sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Calvin of Kempton died when his car crashed while responding to an automobile accident.
“It bring into clearer focus, clearer than ever, the very real threats and challenges our law enforcement personnel face every day,” said Ellspermann, who was in Gary since Gov. Mike Pence was in the United Kingdom on a jobs mission.