WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Cities and police departments across the country are holding National Night Out events Tuesday, a chance for people in the community to meet officers in their local police department.
In Westfield, Tuesday is also Jake Laird Community Day to honor the Indianapolis police officer who was shot and killed in 2004.
Officer Laird’s dad, Mike, says it’s a chance to keep his memory alive, but he says this year will be bittersweet as families of two more officers are experiencing something he says he would never wish upon anyone.
Mike Laird said Jake knew he wanted to be a police officer long before he put on a uniform.
“That’s all he ever wanted to do since he was a kid,” he said.
A Marine, he’d already dedicated much of his life to helping others before joining the department in 2000.
“He didn’t hesitate to call when somebody needed help,” Mike said.
The same was true on Aug. 18, 2004.
“A guy on the southeast side of Indianapolis, shooting up the neighborhood with an SKS rifle, unbeknownst to us at the time, he had already killed his mother. They were answering a 911 call of a guy shooting up the neighborhood and the first officer on the scene was one of Jake’s buddies and he got drilled in the stomach four times and Jake ran without hesitation to help his pal and freak shot, 200 yards away, hit him above his vest, his protective vest, ricocheted off his bone and through his organs,” Mike said.
Three more officers were shot that day before one of the officers shot and killed the suspect.
Not long after their son was shot and killed, Officer Laird’s parents received a knock at their door.
“It’s a visitor you never want to have,” Mike said.
It was Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy and a chaplain telling them the news about their son.
“He was very happy, that’s what I want to remember, and that he gave his life to the city. He gave his life for the people that he loved,” Mike said.
Time has not made the loss easier.
“It will never be easier, but we’re so lucky to have a police family and they consider us part of their family. So, they surround themselves with us.” Mike said.
That’s something he and his wife will be doing for the families of Southport Lt. Aaron Allan and IMPD Deputy Chief Waters.
“They’re gonna be on a journey that they never expect to have to do, and it’s one that will be a blur for a long time, but they, I’m saying, we, the families of the police officers will be there to help them,” Mike said.
As they know the feeling of losing a son who wanted to be a police officer long before he put on the uniform.
“I miss him, I miss him a lot.”
The 2017 Jake Laird Community Day will be held at Quaker Park in Westfield from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is hosted by the Westfield Police Department. It is free and open to the public and will feature a dunk tank, hot dogs, face painting, a K9 demonstration and much more.
Mike and Debbie Laird established the Jake Laird Memorial Fund in 2004. Since then, they have raised more than $800,000 for area police and fire departments. Their annual Jake Laird Memorial Golf Outing will be held next Friday.
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