Commentary: A salute to local officers who gave their lives


By Darrell Ball - FOP 21 president



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LIMA — The week of October 13-17 has been declared Police Week across the United States. Traditionally held during the month of May, police week and the accompanying memorial services held during that time were postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Ceremonies scheduled during this week were still unable to be held but Fraternal Order of Police Lima Lodge 21 and Fraternal Order of Police Associates George B. Quatman Lodge 8 nonetheless wish to honor those Allen County law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our communities.

ALLEN COUNTY

SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Sheriff Jess L. Sarber

Sarber was shot and killed on Oct. 12, 1933, by members of the John Dillinger gang. Dillinger was being held in the Allen County Jail when three men who identified themselves as executives of the Indiana State Prison asked to interview him. When Sarber asked for credentials, one of the men produced a gun and shot him. He died of his wounds at Lima Memorial Hospital less than two hours later.

Six men were identified as being involved in the escape of Dillinger and the killing of Sarber. All six were captured or killed by police during the subsequent manhunt.

Deputy Ralph A. Harshe

Harshe responded on Sept. 2, 1936, to a domestic disturbance at 1415 W. High between Clarke Tyree and Elsie Morning. Upon arrival, Harshe accompanied Morning into the home to retrieve personal belongings. As they entered, Tyree opened fire, killing Harshe and Morning. Shortly after the murders, Tyree took his own life.

AMERICAN TOWNSHIP

POLICE DEPARTMENT

Chief Constable Clarence E. (Pop) Prince

On March 10, 1962, Prince received a phone call in reference to a suspicious vehicle occupied by two men trying on different hats near Elida High School. Upon arrival, Prince was immediately met with gunfire from the vehicle and was struck twice. He attempted to return fire but his weapon malfunctioned. Prince died on the scene. Robert G. Lafferty and Larry Hance, both of Lima, were apprehended later that evening. They were planning to rob the Elida bank when confronted by Prince. Both men were convicted of murder and sentenced to prison.

BLUFFTON POLICE DEPARTMENT

Officer Owen Grandstaff

Grandstaff had arrested a subject for passing a bad check on March 26, 1927. The man broke free from Ofc. Grandstaff and fled on foot. While engaged in a foot pursuit, Grandstaff suffered a heart attack and died at the scene.

• Officer Frank Herrmann

On Sept. 5, 1929, Herrmann was attempting to stop a speeding vehicle and stepped into the lane of travel to flag down the offender. Herrmann was struck and killed by the vehicle.

LIMA POLICE DEPARTMENT

Patrolman Phillip Gobel

On June 6, 1900, Gobel and Patrolman Mike Sullivan responded to the attempted armed robbery of a local druggist. The officers went to the CH&D railroad yard near Vine Street and located the men who had attempted the robbery. Gunfire was exchanged and one of the suspects, later identified as Theodore Monnion, was killed. August Monnion and Louis Beckman were arrested.

Gobel discovered he had been shot, with a bullet entering the left side of his back, travelling through the kidney and out the right side. He was treated for his injury, which was not believed to be serious at the time. On Dec. 30, 1902, Gobel died from kidney problems related to the gunshot. Monnion and Beckman were convicted of attempted robbery and sentenced to prison.

• Patrolman Phillip Droesch

On Oct. 24, 1918 an armed robbery was committed at the Limbaugh Pawn Shop on East Wayne Street. On duty officers pursued the suspect, Thomas S. McKenna, and an exchange of gunfire took place near Market and Pine streets. Droesch was called in for duty after the robbery and observed a person staggering near Jackson and High Street with an apparent head injury. Droesch, believing the person to be drunk and in need of assistance approached the man. McKenna pulled away, produced a handgun and shot Droesch, who died of his wounds the following day. McKenna was convicted of the murder was sentenced to confinement at the Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

• Detective Charles E. Hefner

On February 1, 1951, Hefner and Detective William K. Davenport responded to a domestic disturbance at 311 N. Jameson between Mr. and Mrs. Frank Adkins. Upon arrival, Mrs. Adkins informed officers her husband was inside sitting on a couch with a loaded handgun and she was afraid for her safety. The detectives entered the home and Davenport lunged for Mr. Adkins. A struggle ensued and Adkins attempted to shoot Davenport in the stomach. Officers continued struggling with Adkins when the gun discharged, striking Hefner in the throat. Davenport continued fighting with Adkins and the gun discharged a third time, striking and killing Frank Adkins instantly. Hefner was taken to St. Rita’s Hospital where he remained in critical condition until succumbing to his wounds on Feb. 27. Davenport would later become Chief of the Lima Police Department.

• Patrolman Charles C. Bozeman

On Sunday Dec. 9, 1951, Bozeman was assigned to assist with a Civil Defense mock air raid drill. Nine LPD officers were stationed at different locations in the city, given railroad flares and aerial bombs which they were to ignite to signal the start and finish of the alert. Bozeman took the bomb to a vacant lot across from his home at 1311 N. Metcalf St. and upon igniting it, the bomb exploded. Bozeman succumbed to his injuries at 2:45 A.M. on Dec. 10.

• Patrolman William F. Brown

While on patrol near the intersection of Cole and Robb avenue, Brown saw activity in the Certified Oil station that aroused his suspicion. As Brown approached the attendant’s booth he ordered a man in a ski mask to remove the mask. The man turned and shot Brown four times with a handgun that had not been visible. The man, later identified as Ross Daniel Caudill, was attempting an armed robbery when Brown approached. Brown was able to reach his patrol car and radio for help. Fellow officers arrived within one minute and Brown was transported to St. Rita’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

An intensive investigation and manhunt began and on January 9, 1974, Caudill and Calvin Dean McPheron were arrested. McPheron was the driver of the getaway car and was convicted and sentenced to two 7-25 year terms in prison. Caudill convicted of murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Ohio State Penitentiary. As of October 14, 2021, he is imprisoned at the Madison Correctional Institution in London. He is scheduled for a parole hearing in December 2023, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation records. The Fraternal Order of Police vehemently opposes any and all efforts to release Caudill.

THANK AN OFFICER

“We are very fortunate that there have been no line of duty deaths in Allen County for nearly 50 years,” said Darrell M. Ball, president of Lima Lodge 21 Fraternal Order of Police.

“We recognize that any of our law enforcement officers may have to make the ultimate sacrifice at any time and we commend them for their willingness to place their lives in jeopardy in service to their communities. At any time, but especially during police week, please take the time to thank our police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and state patrol troopers for their service and sacrifices. We pray we may never need to add another name to our memorial.”

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By Darrell Ball

FOP 21 president

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