‘Honoring the Fallen’: Officer Jake Laird
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Officer Jake Laird was killed in the line of duty in 2004.
The 19 years since his death has showed the remarkable way a community can rally around an officer’s family long after the funeral. Laird’s funeral procession in August 2004 drew thousands of people as the hears carrying his casket drove under the garrison flag downtown.
“It was the first officer killed in Indianapolis in 16 years, so everything was kind of new for the people that were there,” said Mike Laird, Jake’s father.
Fast forward to this month, Jake’s parents thanked officers’ cycling in his memory as they rode near the site where he was buried.
“We were both in a daze,” said Mike Laird as he reflected back on his sons funeral, “It took Deb and I maybe a week to realize Jake was gone.”
Laird’s parents Mike and Debbie said the outpouring of support from the community was hard to wrap their brains around.
“It’s like they just wrapped their arms around us,” said Mike Laird.
They were also supported by a group that nobody wants to join; surviving family of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
“I call it a family. They’ve adopted us and put us in that family. The family knows. They keep us in their thoughts all the time,” said Mike Laird.
In the years since his death, the Laird family said they’ve tried to focus on the positive things that have come from his passing, and one of those is the number of stickers for the Jake Laird Memorial Fund that were sold to raise money for his daughter.
“People would come back from vacation and they’d been in Florida and say, ‘we saw a Jake sticker in Florida,’ or wherever they were. So, they were well circulated,” said Debbie Laird.
“How did that make you guys feel in that time,” asked I-Team 8 Reporter Kody Fisher.
“Honored. Honored for Jacob,” said Mike Laird.
Another positive that came from his death was the creation of the Jake Laird Law: Indiana’s red flag law allowing officers to seize and keep firearms from mentally unstable or dangerous people. A law that could have saved Jake’s life if was in effect in 2004.
“It’s something good that came from Jake’s death. Even though of course it’s not worth it to us, something good came out of it and there have been many good things that came because he passed away, but that’s a big one,” said Debbie Laird.
“In the absence of actually having him physically present and here, there’s at least solace in the fact that good has come from it?” asked Fisher.
“Oh, sure. It keeps his memory alive and it’s healing for us as we see good things come because of his death. It helps us to,” said Debbie Laird.
The Laird family is heartbroken every time an officer is killed in the line of duty. They find the high number of recent deaths very concerning.
“Just pray for the officers,” said Mike Laird.
“Everyday, they’re out there risking their lives trying to keep the general public safe, Keep all of us safe, and they face unbelievable things on the streets that nobody ever hears about,” said Debbie Laird.