Porter County Sheriff’s Office hosts memorial to honor the men and women who serve and protect

Porter County Sheriff’s Office hosts memorial to honor the men and women who serve and protect

Porter County Sheriff’s Office participated in Police Week 2021 with the annual memorial service to show gratitude and respect to the men and women of the law enforcement community. Joined by supporters, advocates, and political and religious leaders, law enforcement officers of Porter County were embraced with positivity and gratitude for the dedication and commitment they show in their everyday work.

Held at the Porter County Expo Center on May 5, 2021, the memorial event was the first for the sheriff’s department in two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic preventing the organization from getting together last year. Attendees were in high spirits as they were thrilled to be together after many months of tragedy, hardship, and separation from one another.

Sheriff David M. Reynolds of Porter County Sheriff’s Office began the ceremony by inviting Chaplain Pastor Jay Birky to pray over the gathering and offer words of encouragement to the sheriffs and community in attendance. 

Pastor Birky emphasized in his remarks how those who wake up each day and choose to serve and protect are doing more than just their assigned job; they’re also answering an amazingly brave call to perform work that is greater than themselves.

“What motivates you to do what you do? I find there can only be one answer, and it’s that you have a calling, and one that you refuse to surrender,” said Birky. “I say thank you for not turning your back on that calling. This ceremony honors your colleagues who made that ultimate sacrifice.” 

For Birky, the men and women who serve in law enforcement are exemplifying what he sees as true friendship in action. 

“Someone who is a true friend stands up for you,” said Birky. “When others try to hurt you – emotionally or physically – friends do everything they can to make sure you stay safe. They don’t care who’s trying to harm you; they will defend you anytime and anywhere. Thank you for being that kind of friend to our friends of Porter County. I believe that truly defines what law enforcement officers are about.”

As a continuation of Birky’s remarks of appreciation, Reynolds discussed how heading in 2021 has allowed him to reflect on the lives that were affected throughout the past year, including law enforcement, who were met with unprecedented challenges like many other frontline professionals.

“Obviously, having our memorial service this year holds a little more significance. Everyone’s lives have been affected over the last year. 2020 was a tough year for everyone, and law enforcement was no exception,” said Reynolds. “Law enforcement agencies have been dealing with challenges with no playbook to refer to. Challenges involving civil unrest, growing lack of respect for police, defunding police, and if that’s not enough, throw in a pandemic that is the worst in 100 years.”

Porter County Sheriff Memorial 2021

Porter County Sheriff Memorial 2021 63 Photos
Porter County Sheriff Memorial 2021Porter County Sheriff Memorial 2021Porter County Sheriff Memorial 2021Porter County Sheriff Memorial 2021

Despite the list of challenges that officers like Reynolds and his department had to face and overcome, he feels confident that the strength demonstrated during those hardships only reinforced their ability to take on future obstacles hand-in-hand with one another and with the community that supports them.

“Across the country, most local and state leaders kept their heads and stated that this is not what they wanted or needed,” said Reynolds. “Especially in Indiana, everyone understood and respected the value of law enforcement, which is another reason that I am grateful to live in Indiana.”

Each year, the memorial service hosted by Porter County Sheriff’s Office is meant to honor the individuals of law enforcement who have lost their lives during their time serving and protecting the communities they are a part of. Sheriff Reynolds felt that Wednesday’s service was a beautiful way to honor those men and women while also reminding new officers and jailers that their role is incredibly appreciated and respected in Porter County and beyond.

Extending his appreciation and emphasizing the notion that law enforcement needs community support and respect, Jeremy Rivas, President of the Porter County Council, shared how police officers should be viewed as the neighbors that they are.

“You all have a tough job, and today we honor those police officers that we as a community have lost because they truly are everyone’s loss,” said Rivas. “We need to get back to the understanding that police officers are our neighbors; they’re our kids’ coaches, our former classmates, our friends. You are someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister. We are fellow human beings trying to make a living and trying to make a difference.”

Making a difference is what Porter County Sheriff’s Office is all about, but its impact extends beyond simply its work in law enforcement. Along with the memorial service, the department also invites youth in the community to participate in an essay question that they can respond to and enter in to be chosen for sharing at the ceremony. The question for this year’s essay contest was, “What is your favorite police specialty and why?”

Focusing his essay on the K-9 unit, this year’s first-place winner was Julian Blevins, fifth-grader at John Simatovich Elementary School. Blevins was joined by his two parents at the memorial service and was able to read his written work at the podium to attendees.

“These officers show us kids and citizens that we are safe,” said Blevins. “I am truly sorry to these officers who have lost their lives protecting us and making sure we are safe. I don’t want to only thank K-9 officers; I want to thank them all for protecting us and ensuring we are safe before we go to bed at night.”

Rob Carter, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, also took to the podium and discussed his thoughts surrounding the heartfelt memorial service.

“It’s up to all of us to be a good mentor to these young men and women and to embrace diversity as much as we can,” said Carter. “Thank you for supporting these sheriffs that are here.”

As one of the closing speakers of the service, Jane Mrvan stepped-in for her husband, U.S. Representative Frank J. Mrvan, to offer their combined thanks and appreciation.

“We faced great challenges last year, but there’s one unforgettable fact, and that is that our police, fire, and emergency medical personnel continued to serve bravely for the safety of our community each and every day,” said Mrvan. “Thank you for your dedication and your commitment to the safety of our community; we are eternally grateful. To place yourself in harm’s way and to protect others is courageous, it’s brave, and it’s honorable.”

Birky and Reynolds summarized the overall emotions of Wednesday’s event by sharing how the work of law enforcement is unmatched and the ability to come back from challenges will only foster an even greater sense of togetherness and strength.

“I’m so thankful for those sheriff’s deputies who stand in the gap for the citizens of Porter County,” said Birky. “You do the work that others cannot do in places they cannot go with courage they do not possess.”

“Today is ceremonial, but it is important to share our sorrow in the losses that we have all experienced,” said Reynolds. “I have faith that our grief will make us stronger.”

To learn more about Porter County Sheriff’s Office, visit its website at www.portercountysheriff.com.