Inside the Boone County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana, a blue-ornamented Christmas tree stands tall, honoring the lives of each police officer killed in the line of duty this year.
The inspiration for the tree was born out of loss, as Boone County lost one of their own in March with the death of Deputy Jacob Pickett.
“This was an idea that came to me from three of our communications officers last Friday evening,” Sheriff Mike Nielsen said in a statement.
Nielson loved the idea, which included hanging one blue ornament for each officer who lost his or her life this year — 142 in all.
Each ornament bears the hand-written words of the officer’s name, rank and end of watch date.
“What a great way to honor Jake and all those that have paid that ultimate sacrifice,” Nielson said. “We will never forget.”
When the tree comes down at the end of the holiday season, each ornament will be mailed to the department where the fallen officers worked, WTHR reported.
The sting of loss still weighs on Pickett’s colleagues, mirrored by the feelings of other police departments throughout America.
“It means a lot to all of us — we were all very close,” Boone County Senior Dispatch Officer Mike Gideon told WXIN.
“(Pickett) was a wonderful officer, and it’s our way of honoring him and the other 136 officers that have been killed this year.”
Joni Scott, Boone County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain, was instrumental in coordinating the ornaments for the Christmas tree.
“That’s a life. That’s a life that matters,” Scott said. “That’s a chair that’s empty. That’s a car that’s not being driven.
“That is an incredible hero that’s no longer walking our streets, so it meant something.”
This Christmas, 142 families will gather together, one important member short.
Scott said that while Pickett’s death was “tragic,” something beautiful has come out of his death — a community that is woven together with a tighter bond.
Their community loves and cares for one another with greater intentionality than before. And we have a feeling that Pickett — as well as the other fallen officers — would want their deaths to bring communities closer together, too.
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