WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Police departments across Indiana participated in National Night Out on Tuesday evening.
In Westfield, that event coincides with Jake Laird Community Day, an officer killed in the line of duty in 2004.
Debbie Laird is sharing memories of her son with scrapbooks of his photos and news clippings from the day he was killed as an on-duty police officer.
“We love supporting the police department. It’s our way of keeping Jake’s name alive and his memory strong,” Laird said.
She is grateful the Westfield Police Department celebrates her son’s memory.
For her, it’s a chance to raise awareness and funds for the foundation they use to support law enforcement.
“We’ve given funds to police officers and firefighters who have been injured in the line of duty. We’ve purchased equipment for various police and firefighting agencies all over the state of Indiana,” she said.
Westfield Police Captain Charles Hollowell said that support is so valuable in a time of budget cuts and low morale in the country surrounding officers.
“You’re making people aware, making the citizens aware that an officer made the ultimate sacrifice as well as we’re still here to protect the community,” he said.
He said sharing stories like Jake’s and holding events like this help build a bond between law enforcement and the community they serve.
“That’s why I’m not in a uniform tonight. That way when a person is speaking to me or a kid is speaking to me, they’re not just speaking to an officer, they’re speaking to a regular person who’s here to do a job,” he said.
Amy Lathers felt it was important to bring her boys to the event.
“Both my kids go back and forth on whether they want to be police officers or firefighters,” Lathers said.
She shared Jake’s story with them to make sure that the next generation remembers his sacrifice.
“I think it’s important to come support their families, support their memory and show that the work that police officers do is important,” she said.
The Jake Laird Memorial Fund has provided $400,000 for local law enforcement.