ILEA honors fallen police officers during Blue Light ceremony
By Lindsay Doty
Photo provided by Indiana Law Enforcement Academy
Fallen police officers across Indiana will be honored Tuesday night at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield as part of the annual Project Blue Light Ceremony. The tradition remembers the officers and their loved ones during the holiday season.
“It’s not only the officer that serves, it’s their whole family,” said ILEA instructor and organizer Captain David Younce.
“I think my whole thing when I first started was I felt so sorry for family members. Their holidays are never ever the same, so we bring them in here and they know we have not forgotten their sacrifice.”
During the outdoor event, the names of the three officers killed in Indiana this past year will be honored. The list includes Sgt. Benton Bertram (Charlestown Police), Chief David Hewitt (Rising Sun Police), and Indiana State Police Trooper Peter “Bo” Stephan from the Lafayette post.
The officer’s names will be read along with a narrative of what happened. A ceremonial wreath will then be placed and bagpipes will play “Amazing Grace.”
Flags will also be placed on the grounds to honor the 404 Indiana officers killed in the line of duty dating back to the 1920s.
Survivors or co-workers can sign up to have their fallen officer’s name read aloud and receive a blue-dipped carnation to remember the lives lost.
The ceremony also includes a multi-jurisdiction color guard and a brief speech by a representative from each class at the law enforcement academy.
“It serves as a lesson to our new officers this is how we honor our heroes. The riderless horse with the boot backward, the bagpipes, all of those have meaning and I want them to start thinking in terms of what those traditions mean,” said Cpt. Younce.
Organizers plan to light 21 blue Roman candles at nearby Hummel Park. An Indiana State Police helicopter is scheduled to fly over the academy and shine a light on the 404 flags, weather permitting.
If you would like your fallen officer’s name to be read aloud, please register in person.
The Blue Light initiative started in 1988 by Dolly Craig to honor the memory of her late son-in-law, Philadelphia police officer Daniel Gleason, who was killed in the line of duty. She placed two blue lights in her window during the holiday season.