Laird family repays police honor guard
The Indianapolis Police Honor Guard serves a vital role to the families of fallen officers by standing guard over their comrades, despite rain and snow.
When Mike and Debbie Laird's son, Officer Jake Laird, was gunned down during a horrific shootout on the south side, the Indianapolis Police honor guard put their arms around the family, standing watch over Jake 24-7.
"This is more than a police officer to us," said Deb. "This is our child and that somebody was going to be with him to make sure he was okay."
For honor guard member Stephen Knight, it was a very personal assignment. Knight trained Officer Laird when he was first hired on and was with Jake moments after the shooting.
"I was actually in the shock room while he was there," Knight recalled. "Escorted him to the coroner's office."
He and others were there throughout the funeral, the procession and the burial. An honor guard member stood graveside until Mike and Debbie said their personal goodbyes.
"When we turned around and that was the first thing that we saw was him standing at complete attention. That will last in my memory forever," said Mike.
The family formed the Jake Laird Foundation shortly after his death. When they heard the honor guard needed coats, they didn't hesitate.
The honor guard brought so much comfort to the Laird family in their deepest time of need. Now the Laird family will give some warmth back to them.
The family gave members of the honor guard 13 custom fitted, all-weather, military-style coats.
"This group of individuals made a week of tragedy for my family an honorable week," Mike said. "It was one of the most comforting things we have ever done. We actually got to pay them back."
Don Weilhammer also serves on the honor guard, "Jake made the ultimate sacrifice and we're just humbled that they feel they need to say 'thank you' because they didn't. We did it because we wanted to do it. It's the least we could do to try to thank them for giving their son."
It's a gift that will carry on the legacy of an officer taken too soon from a family who can now wrap their arms around those who carried them through.