By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
In the 148-year history of the Kokomo Police Department, two officers have died in the line of duty. Members of the department took part in a ceremony Friday to honor not only those two, but all fallen police officers.
The ceremony took place at Foster Park and particular attention was paid to the two KDP officers who made the supreme sacrifice.
Officer Thomas W. Lannon died in 1877 and Patrolman George Berryman was slain in 1953.
The Kokomo Police Department Color Guard placed a wreath at the base of the flag pole along Washington Street while “Taps” played in the background. The American flag was lowered in honor of the fallen officers.
“We’re here to honor our fallen, active and retired officers,” Chief Rob Baker said. “This is a solemn day. Any day we can honor officers past and present is a great day.”
Major Brian Seldon said the ceremony, the 26th for the Kokomo Police Department, aimed to recognize fallen comrades.
Seldon said a police officer dies every 67 hours in the United States, and since the 1870s, more than 19,000 officers have died in the line of duty.
Sgt. Shane Melton, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the gathering is meant to pay respect to departed brothers.
“It’s to renew our dedication and to assure them they did not die in vain,” he said. “We continue to rid society of those who would disrupt our peaceful life.”
Patrolman Berryman was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call at 1201 W. Mulberry St.
The suspect’s wife had reported her husband choked her before she was able to flee to a neighbor’s home. Upon the officers’ arrival, Berryman’s partner turned his flashlight on the suspect’s door where he was standing with a shotgun and attempted to warn Berryman, but the suspect fired through the door, striking Berryman in the head, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page website. Berryman’s partner returned fire twice into the home, but was unaware the suspect had been killed until he was later found feet away from his two sleeping children.
Berryman had served with the Kokomo Police Department for over 6 1/2 years. In May 2005, he was posthumously awarded the department’s Medal of Valor.
The first KPD officer to die in the line of duty was Officer Lannon, who died on Aug. 22, 1877, when he was shot in the back by Michael Gillooley.
Lannon had arrested Gillooley earlier in the month for visiting a house of prostitution.
Lannon was shot and killed at the Junction Depot platform after being ambushed by Gillooley, who he had arrested four weeks earlier, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. As Lannon spoke with a friend, Gillooley approached from behind and opened fire on him without warning, striking him twice. Gillooley fled the scene, but turned himself in a short time later.
Gillooley was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. In 1878, the governor granted clemency four days before his scheduled execution and commuted the offender’s death sentence to life in prison. After serving nearly 22 years, he was granted parole and died in 1902.
Lannon was recognized with a special award from the department during the 2012 ceremonies.
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