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Salute to our Southside Heroes

Salute to our Southside Heroes

Compiled by Nancy Hammerstrom and Nicole Davis

Heroes are those who make a difference in their communities. They inspire and encourage others. They implement change for the greater good. They persevere, despite the uphill challenges. They may serve quietly, yet their actions are heard loud and clear.

The members of our Southside police and fire departments are our local everyday heroes.

In recognition of the 21st anniversary of 9/11, we’d like to thank all local heroes who make a difference every day:

Beech Grove Police Department

Greenwood Fire Department

Greenwood Police Department

Homecroft Police Department

Indianapolis Fire Department

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

Indiana State Police

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office

Marion County Sheriff’s Office

Southport Police Department

White River Township Fire Department

And all of our school police officers

Beech Grove Police Department

The new police station for the Beech Grove Police Department is still undergoing construction, as business and community leaders gathered Aug. 29 to sign their names on the steel beam that will anchor the facility.

Southport Police Chief Thomas Vaughn, Beech
Grove Police Chief Michael Maurice and Beech Grove Deputy Chief Robert Mercuri join together at Beech Grove’s Peace Walk on the Franciscan Trail on July 30. (Photo by the Southport Police Department)

The current station at 340 E. Churchman Ave. was built in 1973 for its 15 employees. Today, that station houses more than 45 employees, part and full time, as well at the Beech Grove City Court.

The new two-story, approximately 15,000-square-foot station will house the police department and civilian personnel, the city court, and will offer meeting space to community groups and organizations. Extra parking will be located across the street. The building will be named after longtime Beech Grove Major J. Warner Wiley, who served as police chief from 1968-1978.

Greenwood Fire Department

The Greenwood Fire Department has hired eight full-time members to the department in the last year, bringing the total to 63 full-time staff, writes Chad Tatman, communications coordinator/public information officer.

“GFD completed a busy 2021, responding to over 8,600 calls for service, compared to 7,200 in 2020.”

In April of 2021, GFD also suffered the devastating loss of an active member of the department. Capt. Craig Hall passed away unexpectedly. At the time of his passing, Hall had served the citizens of Greenwood for over 25 years, 17 of those as a full-time firefighter/EMT. Hall served the last nine years of his career as a captain.

Craig Hall, who served Greenwood Fire Department for 25 years, passed away unexpectedly in April of 2021. (Submitted photo)

GFD promoted two officers and lost another to retirement. Lieutenant Gabe Neuman was promoted to captain, and firefighter Jacob Harshey was promoted to lieutenant in early May. Lieutenant Jeff Pine retired at the end of June. Pine spent over 40 years with Greenwood Fire Department as a cadet, a part-time firefighter, and for the last 20 years, a full-time firefighter and officer.

GFD has placed an order with Seagrave, for one new engine, and one new ladder. The new engine will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022 and will be assigned as Engine 94. The ladder will be delivered first quarter of 2023 and will be assigned as Ladder 91. Both will replace apparatus put in service in 2006.”

The Greenwood Police Department hosts the annual Touch-a-Truck event for families. Pictured is Officer Young. (Photo by Nicole Davis)
Officers visit at the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood Christmas gathering. (Submitted photo)

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office

Members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office participate in many activities throughout the county while speaking with residents on how to protect themselves and remain safe. “We believe in community policing and educating people about what is occurring in Johnson County,” said Johnson County Sheriff Duane E. Burgess.

Officers receive training to help them face the stressors and rigors of police work. Deputy Hannah Greene is currently attending a 16-week mandatory training with the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

Entertaining activities include presenting the colors during high school basketball games.

A few members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office’s Honor Guard Team present the colors during a basketball game at Franklin Community High School. (Submitted photo)

The department has a group of reserves who dedicate many hours throughout the month to assist with covering shifts and working special events throughout the year. “We are very fortunate to have several hard-working reserves on staff,” said Burgess.

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has created a CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Division that consists of three officers or deputies that respond and assist with people who are having mental health issues. Most of the department’s deputies and other Johnson County Law Enforcement officers are certified CIT Officers.

For the department’s latest events and other important messages, go to Facebook: Johnson County Indiana Sheriff’s Office.

Southport Police Department

Southport Police Department continues to grow, with three full-time officers in what was a completely reserve department. Southport Mayor Jim Cooney shares about the city’s department and gives tribute to them in this letter to the editor:

“The city of Southport would like to offer a salute to our heroes, the Southport Police department. The men and women of Southport PD serve the community every day ensuring that Southport is a safe place to live.  Many of Southport PD’s officers are volunteers, which means that they are protecting the residents for no pay.  Additionally, the officers do not live in the city they have sworn to protect.

The Southport Police Department concludes National Night Out on Aug. 2 with a group photo.

The relationship between the Southport residents and the police officers is a good one.  The residents recognize the value of a responsive community-oriented police department.  An alley was recently repaved which caused a problem for a resident when she pulled into her driveway.  Southport PD purchased and placed gravel between the new alley and her driveway making a smooth transition. One resident routinely brings homemade snacks over to the police department to say “thank you” to the police officers for serving Southport.

Thanks to all Southport police officers for their hard work and efforts to make our community a safe and enjoyable community in which to live.” – Jim Cooney

White River Township Fire Department

White River Township Fire Department has experienced a range of emotions in the past year, from the loss of Paramedic Kyle Martincic in the line of duty to the sense of accomplishment in opening a new public safety building with the Bargersville Community Fire Department, Center Grove School Police, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and Center Grove Schools. “The resiliency of the men and women on our department is a testament to their commitment to serving this community,” said Fire Chief Jeremy A. Pell.

Paramedic Kyle Martincic joined the WRTFD in 2019. “He had special way of making people smile due to his gentle spirit and incredible kindness,” said Pell. “These gifts were matched by his vast experience and education in EMS. Kyle inspired those around him to provide the best possible EMS care with a caring spirit. Kyle’s sudden passing while on duty was a shock to all of us and has left a void that will never be fully filled.”

Kyle Martincic, right, joined the department in 2019. (Submitted photos)

The department has added additional equipment, training and a facility to improve response times and advance EMS services in the community. The Center Grove School Corporation’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) opened, which also serves as Fire Station 254. “The thing that makes this accomplishment so special is the partnership between WRTFD, Bargersville Community Fire Department, Center Grove School Police and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. All four agencies worked together to staff the facility just a few hundred yards from the largest Center Grove School campus,” said Pell. The facility houses a WRTFD ambulance, a BCFD ladder truck and multiple police officers. “Combining police, fire and EMS in the heart of our community on a school campus is one of the first of its kind in the nation,” Pell continued. “Everyone benefits from this mission-based collaborative approach to public safety. Not only does it make our community safer, but it is also an efficient use of taxpayer resources. A model such as this is a game-changer for responding to 911 emergencies in White River Township.  Lives will be changed for the better because progressive community leaders in Johnson County supported this effort.”

A ribbon cutting for Center Grove Community School Corporation’s new Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Pictured, from left to right: CG School Superintendent Rich Arkanoff, Sheriff Duane Burgess, WRTFD Community Liaison Mike Hoffman, CG School Police Chief Ray Jackson, CG Asst. Superintendent Bill Long, CG School Board member Scott Alexander, Bargersville Fire Chief Eric Funkhouser, White River Fire Chief Jeremy Pell and Senator Roderick Bray.

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