HANCOCK COUNTY — Standing in front of the podium on a warm Sunday afternoon, Sheriff Brad Burkhart picked up an empty coffee cup from underneath the stand and held it up. He told everyone in attendance how much Corporal Dannie R. Garrison loved to drink coffee when he was on duty.
As a young 20-something deputy at the time, Burkhart said he just didn’t understand how anyone, like Garrison, wanted to drink coffee at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Now, an older and wiser Burkhart said he gets wanting to consume as much coffee as possible on the overnight shift they worked together. Burkhart then pulled out a new Yeti container, like many officers use nowadays, and said Garrison would have loved filling it with coffee, if only he were alive today.
Corporal Garrison, Hancock County Sheriff’s Captain Malcolm E. Grass and Greenfield Police Department patrolman William E. Phillips III all lost their lives in the line of duty. All three were remembered Sunday, May 15 during Peace Officer Memorial Day. The Hancock County Memorial Service was held at the Hancock County Fraternal Order of Police to honor and remember those in law enforcement who have passed away while on duty.
The three names are edged into a stone wall at the FOP.
National Police Week is observed across the United States from Wednesday May 11 through Tuesday, May 17. In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
Greenfield Police Department Chief of Police Brian Hartman attended the ceremony and said it’s important for law enforcement to keep their promise to the men and women who sign up to serve.
“Our promise is they will never be forgotten,” Hartman said. “The promise is just not that the officer will not be forgotten but that the family will not be forgotten.”
Just because the family of a loved one who was in local law enforcement is gone, it doesn’t mean they are no longer part of the law enforcement family, Hartman noted. He feels it’s important to pause at least once a year and reflect on the men and women who go into law enforcement to serve but end up paying the ultimate price.
“These days are hard, but I enjoy them because no matter how many years pass, we will always be thankful and remember them,” Hartman said. “We honestly have nothing more important to do today than to be here and honor these officers.”
Deputy Chief Chuck McMichael put the program together Sunday afternoon at the FOP to honor the three fallen law enforcement officials in the county. McMichael said it’s important for current officers and the community to remember those who have given their all.
“We get into the everyday habit of things, and we often tend to forget about those who have come before us,” McMichael said. “This day is to honor and remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
New Palestine Police Department Patrolman Tyler Batton is the FOP Lodge #140 President and was the master of ceremonies for the memorial.
“I’ve learned that these officers were not only protectors of our community, but these officers were mentors to numerous officers they came in contact with, but most importantly they were family men,” Batton said. “These men will not be forgotten.”
After the posting of the colors by a joint honor guard of law enforcement from the HCSD and GPD and the singing of the National Anthem, Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell and Hancock County Council President Bill Bolander spoke to the officers and families in attendance.
Fewell, a former police officer, said the city must take the time to celebrate those in law enforcement who have been taken too soon from their families and communities. He proclaimed May 15 as Police Officer Memorial Day.
“You can’t ask any more than what they paid — that ultimate price,” Fewell said. “Our county has lost three law enforcement officers, and one is way too many.”
Bolander said the city and county fully support law enforcement and feel the reason the county is such a great place to live is because of the police officers who keep the area safe.
“May their memories live on, and may we never forget them,” Bolander said of the three officers who have died.
Kerry Grass spoke on behalf of his father, Malcolm E. Grass, who was shot and killed May 8, 1986.
Burkhart spoke on behalf of Corporal Dannie R. Garrison, who suffered a heart attack and died following a single-car crash on Jan. 1, 2000.
Hartman spoke on behalf of patrolman William E. Phillips III, who died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver while on a bike training patrol Sept. 30, 2010.
The ceremony ended with the placing of a memorial wreath and the playing of Taps by Greenfield-Central’s Owen Moore.
McMichael noted the GPD sent five officers to Washington D.C. for the weekend to take part in the national events during National Police Week. Lt. Jon Anderson, Lt. Jimmie Condra, Ptlm. Jarrod Davis, Ptlm. Caleb Freeman and Ptlm. Stephen Kalk made the trip.
“We started sending officers on this trip about four years ago,” McMichael said.
The GPD officers assisted families and colleagues of the heroes who died in the line of duty last year. The GPD officers attended the candlelight vigil honoring the officers killed last year and also attended the national memorial service at the Capitol in observance of National Peace Officer Memorial Day.
This year, 619 names of fallen heroes were added to the walls of the National Police Memorial, officials said.