COLUMBIA CITY — Police officers from across parts of northern Indiana — including more than 60 K9 units — honored Cas, the Whitley County K9 killed last week in a fiery crash.
Her death came in the line of duty after a motorist being chased by police on US 30 near Columbia City swerved to avoid stop sticks in the road and instead slammed into a police car with Cas inside. Emergency responders were unable to free Cas from the car and she died at the scene.
The motorist was arrested. Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Archbold, the handler for Cas, was uninjured but was left to cope with the loss of his partner.
On Wednesday, July 17, more than 300 police officers and their guests joined others in the community to remember Cas at a memorial service held at First Church of God,1200 Depoy Drive.
Senior Pastor of First Church of God, Johnny McCallister, admitted the uniqueness of the memorial service, saying he’s never done anything like it before.
“And as the week’s gone along, I realized I’m not alone. There’s many of you here today who have never done anything like this before,” said McCallister.
He said Cas was “universally loved” by the community. Unlike some people, Cas approached her work without concerns about race, income level, age or education.
“She performed her duties without prejudice. We would do well to learn from Cas,” McCallister said.
“K9s are trained to do the most dangerous work in law enforcement and she did that without hesitation,” he added.
Whitley County Sheriff Marc Gatton also spoke at the service and said Cas and Archbold “excelled as a team.”
“She didn’t know it, but by simply putting on her collar and leash and going to work every day, Cas made Whitley County a better place,” Gatton said.
Gary Griffith, with the Fort Wayne Police Department, stood guard next to the flag-draped coffin with his K9, Ivy, prior to the service. He said he had attended training with Archbold in Massachusetts.
The turnout at the memorial speaks to the brotherhood among police, Griffith said.
“Law enforcement is a family within itself and then you got the K9 family that is even closer than that,” said Griffith. “I’ve been a K9 handler for ten years and this is pretty impressive. It’s nice to see.”
Archbold, through one of the speakers, conveyed to the audience the close bond he shared with Cas, saying he considered her to be a guardian and protector.
He also thanked the community for the support he and his family have received.
McCallister, in his talk, also turned the focus to Archbold, his wife and their five children, where Cas was a family pet.
“On behalf of a grateful community, we say, thank you very much,” he said.