Haunts & Jaunts: Heroes

    Webster’s Dictionary defines the word Hero as “any person admired for courage, nobility, etc.” It also adds the caveat “an illustrious warrior.” There’s so much more that can be said about what a hero is: persistence, integrity, a caring nature and a servant’s heart. We lost two such heroes this past week.

   IMPD’s Deputy Chief of Investigations, James Waters, died from his injuries sustained on July 23 when he was rear-ended  by a truck on I-70 near Plainfield. Traffic had slowed due to wood debris on the highway. He was off duty at the time. From all accounts he was an impeccable servant of the public, having a caring heart far exceeding what his dangerous job required. Police work was in his blood, with his expertise in building bridges between the police and the community. There is now a void in his absence, to be felt for years to come.

Aaron Allan, 38 years old and a lieutenant with the Southport Police Department, was shot on July 27 while responding to a serious car crash in Homecroft… literally two miles from his Southport post. He was pronounced deceased shortly after at Eskenazi Hospital. The shooting came out of left field, erupting out of nowhere. He was doing his job, attempting to help someone in need, and be of assistance. That’s what a police officer does! We could have expected no less from Officer Allan.

   A gruff exterior masked the nickname of “Teddy Bear.” He had left the Franklin Township Police Department to become Southport’s first full-time officer. He loved hunting, fishing (things that many of us do), and his family: his wife and two children, and his police family. He also believed in what he was doing, loving Southport and his job. It was just another Thursday when Aaron Allan went to work that morning.

   When Jason Brown crashed and rolled his vehicle that Thursday afternoon on Madison Avenue, what was going through his mind as he hung upside down, still strapped into the driver’s seat? The 28-year-old tattoo artist, working at a Southside parlor, was either in his right mind or not. That will be the argument. Sources say that Officer Allan was already in the up-turned car, seeing what he could do, when the shooting started. And then it was over – that quick! Media has painted two portraits of the suspect: doting father of a 3-year-old or a wannabe thug on Facebook. A semi-automatic handgun and 13 bags of marijuana were found at the scene. Sometimes we make the wrong decisions.

   Saturday, July 29, and Laura and I were at the Southport Police headquarters, paying our respects to Lt. Allan. His vehicle is covered with flowers, cards, signed flags from various police departments, and of course, Teddy Bears. We watch those that arrive, placing memorials and staring somberly at his police vehicle, now almost unrecognizable beneath the amount of tributes. Southport police officers stood watching silently, clearly still in shock We talked  to the chaplain. He knew Allan very well, stating “He gave 100 percent and then dug in and gave more. That’s who he was.”

   It’s said, the dangers of police work should never be minimized. We mustn’t take for granted what these public servants do for us each and every day… whether seen or not! They’re out there for us. They are people with hopes, aspirations, hobbies, families, enjoying a good movie or restaurant, cutting their grass and putting time into their yard – just like us! Are they ever truly off duty? They also have a dangerous job, often not ending after an eight-hour shift. James Waters and Aaron Allan chose as their vocation the opportunity to help, with all that it entails. Sometimes, it’s with the sacrifice of their lives!With the rampant violence in our society these days, let’s hope it’s not in vain! Heroes? That, these two

are, and also all those who daily confront the Wild West  scenario we seem to be heading towards.

   God’s speed Officer James Waters and Officer Aaron Allan. Job well done!