WASHINGTON D.C. — Tens of thousands of people gathered in the National Mall in Washington D.C. Monday night to pay tribute to officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.
The annual candlelight vigil is widely regarded as a highlight of National Police Week. This year, 371 fallen officers were recognized during the vigil. The seven Indiana officers recognized include Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Jake Pickett, Terre Haute Police Officer Rob Pitts, Indiana Conservation Officer Sgt. Ed Bollman, Allen County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Joseph Cox, Jr., Fort Wayne Police Officer David Tinsley, and Charlestown Police Officer Benton Bertram.
163 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2018, including Deputy Pickett.
After the ceremony, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen admitted he's attended the candlelight vigil before, but never to honor a colleague or close friend.
“All I can tell you is we're honored to be here, we're honored to continue to be here and we're honored to walk that journey, and to thank Jake for the ultimate sacrifice that he made. That's why we're here today,” Nielsen said
Pickett’s father, Marlin Pickett said he felt mixed emotions during the ceremony and thus far during Police Week.
“I’ll remember it forever. It’s hard to be here, but I love being here at the same time. Like I said, it's bittersweet,” he said.
Both Nielsen and Pickett said they found comfort in knowing the Police Week ceremonies helped to ensure Deputy Pickett’s legacy lives on.