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Rob Pitts remembered at Blue Light ceremony


By GUS PEARCY     CNHI News Indiana 

Sleet fell fast as a riderless horse approached, beginning the ceremony to remember law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Every December for the last 20 years, the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, the training ground for future police officers, holds a Project Blue Light ceremony in Plainfield. Project Blue Light honors not only the officers, but the families trying to rebuild after such devastating loss.

This year, officers, cadets and family members honored four officers added to the roster of 433.

Among the officers memorialized on Tuesday night was Rob Pitts, 45, of the Terre Haute Police Department and a Sullivan Native. He was shot while trying to apprehend a murder suspect on May 4. Pitts was a 16-year veteran of the Terre Haute force and previously a police officer in Sullivan.

In attendance was Rob Pitts’ father, Greg Pitts, also a former Sullivan police officer, and Rob’s stepmother, Sue.

Greg Pitts said the loss of Rob still feels raw every time the family makes an appearance.

“It brings us right back to that day,” Greg Pitts said. “But we got to meet tonight some of the other survivors that we haven’t met before. It’s good that you can talk to the survivors because we can relate to each other.

“You know, you can talk to so many people and they give you their sympathies, but it’s not like talking to somebody that knows how you’re feeling.”

Also honored this year were Sgt. Edward Bollman of the Department of Natural Resources, Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett, and Fort Wayne Police Officer David Tinsley. Additionally, the ceremony honored Hendricks County Sheriff’s K9 Cade.

Tinsley, a 16-year veteran, died of a heart attack while searching for a suspect following a vehicle pursuit.

Bollman, 44, died while trying to rescue a friend while ice fishing in Frankton in February.

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said he still struggles with the feelings from March when Pickett, 34, was killed in pursuit of a suspect with K9 Brik.

“We’re a little over nine months post-incident, and we’re still trying to find that new normal,” Nielsen said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever find it, but every day it’s a little bit easier. We move on.”

Nielsen said he still grieves.

“Some of us, like myself, have to have a therapist to get us through that,” Nielsen said. “I never imagined anything like this happening on my watch.”

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