Patches upon patches

Angi Cheeseman, president of Indiana Going Blue, seeks to raise support for law enforcement throughout the country

Angi Cheeseman, through Indiana Going Blue, has collected more than 450 patches to be used for quilts for the family of fallen Southport Lt. Aaron Allan.

When Angi Cheeseman’s daughter decided to become a police officer, the entire family became engrossed in the career. Angi has participated in a couple citizen’s academies and has gone on many ride-alongs. She’s seen the dedication that the men and women in blue have to their job, along with the disrespect they many times receive simply for donning the uniform.

That’s why she became involved with Indiana Going Blue and America Going Blue. The social media pages are a registered nonprofit, for which she is the president.

“We want to increase support for law enforcement,” Cheeseman said. “We want to help people to see or better understand what they really do.”

The first ‘Indy Going Blue’ page was launched three days after IMPD Officer Perry Renn was killed. Cheeseman, a 1983 graduate of Center Grove High School, met the founder of the page a few months later and volunteered to help. They launched both Indiana Going Blue and America Going Blue. After awhile, the original people stepped down and Cheeseman stepped up. She recruited other volunteers to assist with the pages.

Indiana Going Blue helps law enforcement officers who have been injured in the line of duty, as well as the families of fallen officers. This year, they have helped raise funds for an officer in St. Joseph who was hit by a semi while aiding others in a snowstorm and for an officer in Carmel who was hit while on patrol on his motorcycle.

“Each time we do something, it’s pretty much whatever the officer or the family wants,” Cheeseman said.

When Deputy Carl Koontz was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 29, 2016, it was the first line-of-duty death since Indiana Going Blue had formed. Shortly after his funeral, Cheeseman said a deputy from Elkhart County messaged her about an officer taking photographs of the patches on the officers who were at the funeral. Cheeseman took his advice and made a post asking for photographs of patches from departments.

“Within one-half hour of posting it, an officer in the Southern part of the state said you should collect patches – just ask for them and figure it out later,” Cheeseman said. “Another trooper, from Eastern Indiana, said you should make a quilt. From the time I posted it to two hours later, I had numerous people volunteering to make quilts. I’m just the middle man. I didn’t do much.”

Five months after Deputy Koontz was killed, Indiana Going Blue presented the family with five handmade quilts made from the patches.

On July 27, Southport Police Lt. Aaron Allan was killed while responding to the scene of a vehicle crash. The suspect was trapped inside the vehicle and shot Allan multiple times. The incident wasn’t far from Cheeseman’s now Perry Township home.

She drove over to introduce herself to Chief Thomas Vaughn and offer help in any way she could. Indiana Going Blue began to promote fundraisers that benefitted Lt. Allan’s family, with Angi making sure those fundraisers were legitimate by confirming them with Vaughn. She also began collecting patches to have quilts made for the Allan family. As of Sept. 11, Indiana Going Blue had received 450 patches from across the nation in its P.O. Box. Cheeseman would take the mail over to the Southport Police Station and allow the officers to open them. She said they will continue to collect patches until the end of the month, or as needed.

“Southport Police Department was shocked (by the amount of support), but it’s not abnormal for the community, the state and the nation to come together in support of them in a time like this,” Cheeseman said. “They were overwhelmed, but it’s humbling to see everyone supporting them.”

In 2015, there were zero line-of-duty deaths in the state of Indiana, the first time that had happened in 30 years. She created a challenge coin to commemorate the news. She was hoping to do another in 2016, but Howard County Deputy Carl Koonz was shot and killed in March. Indiana Going Blue created and sold a coin designed for him. His wife is choosing to use the proceeds for a scholarship fund at Northwestern where he was a school resource officer. The page created another challenge coin in early 2017 when Allen County Sgt. Allen Cox was found unconscious and died in his police car.

Cheeseman said she was hopeful they’d only be making one coin a year, until she heard the news about Lt. Allan. His coin will soon be sold by the page for $10 each. Allan’s wife, Stacy, can use the proceeds in any manner she chooses.

helped the Southport Police Department raise funds for Lt. Allan’s family on Sept. 9 at two Southside Kroger locations.

“Everything we went through, for about a month, there’s a lot you don’t think of if you’ve never having gone through it before,” Vaughn said. “Since she’s worked with surviving families before, she had that insight. It gave us a roadmap of what events could work successfully and what didn’t work. At the end of the day, we just want to make sure Stacy and the kids are taken care of. The help has been tremendous. We couldn’t have done it without her.”

With nearly 93,000 followers, Indiana Going Blue is able to reach more of an audience than the most of the individual departments can, which is why Cheeseman said she enjoys using that platform to share issues that either promote the good work the officers do every day, or show the struggles they go through.

“I don’t have things planned,” Cheeseman said. “It’s whatever happens with current events. I know that God is working here. God has a plan for it. I just take each day and go with it.”