FOP president: Fallen officer "chose to be there"

William Owensby, FOP president
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The Indianapolis community is reeling from a weekend of shocking violence that left an Indianapolis Metro Police officer dead and seven bystanders wounded in two separate incidents. While those incidents weren't the only reports of violence in the city this weekend, IMPD is mourning the loss of a valued member of the force.

Indianapolis Metro Police Officer Perry Renn was described as "the old man on the shift," a 22-year veteran of IMPD's North District who will be sorely missed, said William Owensby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Owensby spoke to reporter Steve Jefferson on WTHR Sunrise Sunday morning following a tragic night.

Renn was killed in a shootout with a suspect at 34th st. and Forest Manor Ave. The suspect, Major Davis, Jr., remains in critical condition. Although Renn was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, a round from a high-powered rifle - police aren't yet saying exactly what kind of weapon was used - penetrated his vest. That wound proved fatal after Renn was rushed to Eskenazi Health, where his fellow officers stood by in support.

"To my knowledge, his entire career was spent in that neighborhood where he didn't have to work," Owensby pointed out. "Seniority plays a lot of role in the police department as to where you work and what shift you work. He didn't have to be there, but he chose to be. And he chose to be there because that's where he wanted to work. He was very well thought of by his peers and he will be sadly missed."

Owensby said IMPD rolled out their plan last night to provide emotional support for the entire force "to start encouraging officers to take part in the Employee Assistance Program - EAP - it is a counseling service that's available, free and confidential. We're hoping to encourage officers to take part in that. Unfortunately it's becoming an all-too-common occurrence for us to have those conversations, and quite frankly, we're getting tired of having them."

All the same, Owensby added, "But we're gonna continue to encourage officers to get help, to seek help. No one has to know about it. It's a tremendous amount of stress, especially on families of officers. When they observe this and they all of the sudden realize the mortality that their loved ones will face out there, and especially as it's occurring more and more often."

Owensby mentioned up to 30 incidents involving gunfire on police officers over the last few years. "That is way too high of a number," he said.

Procession and funeral information has not been set at this point. Owensby says public support is much appreciated, and it means a lot to IMPD.

"Fortunately we don't have to ask for the public's support, they're out there en masse. They're out there in large numbers, lining the streets. That is very important for the family members to see, and the officers to see that they're supported by the citizenry that they serve," he said.

Owensby called for patience on the day of the procession "because this is likely going to be a very long procession. There's gonna be traffic closures, that kind of thing. Just have an understanding that we're honoring one of our own for the last time before internment and to just have a little patience and understanding."

"Fortunately, the support, we never really have to ask for. Because they get it. They get that they lost a hero. They get that they lost someone that was protecting them. The outpouring of support is always greatly appreciated," said Owensby.

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