Memorial service honors local fallen officers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It’s a risk that police officers across the globe know all too well, that of being killed in the line of duty. 

Just since the beginning of 2023, 42 officers have lost their lives on the job. 

On Friday evening, an annual memorial service was held to remember the 16 officers who have been killed here at home. 

“It means a lot to the families, and it means a lot to the officers too that we honor their loved one and they know we’ll never forget their loved one for as long as we’re here,” says James Burns, Chaplain of the South Bend Police Department and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #36. 

The families of South Bend’s fallen officers gather to remember their loved ones surrounded by their brothers in duty.  

The annual tribute and memorial service recognizes the 16 officers, 15 with the South Bend Police Department and one with the Saint Joe County Police Department.  

While it’s a tragedy that hasn’t struck this community in over 15 years, they also took a moment to honor the over 26,000 officers nationwide who have died in the line of duty. 

“We do this job hoping to never make that sacrifice,” admits Eric Mentz, Detective and Assistant Commander of the Honor Guard at the South Bend Police Department. 

Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski says the 16 passed officers remain heroes in the community, and all South Bend Police strive to model their dedication and bravery.  

“Nick, Scott, Paul, Tom, and our other brothers here did their best even in their final moment, doing the job on behalf of and for everyone else,” says Chief Ruszkowski to the crowd. 

For family, it’s a chance to honor their loved one's sacrifice.  

The closest descendant of fallen officer Charles Farkas Senior, whose end of watch was May 27th, 1933, says it’s special to see his grandfather’s values of service still play a role in the South Bend Police Department, as well as in his own family.  

“I feel like those of us who he never met all carry his values because his family set those values down to their families so now, we carry it on to our families and that’s the way it happens,” says Bill Farkas, grandson of fallen officer Charles Farkas. 

Officers tell me the best way to prevent this tragedy is to speak up about crime in the community. Less crime means less of a chance of our officers being put in the position to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

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