No one knows better the danger that a tense circumstance can present than police in the United States. Constantly under pressure to control people who are guaranteed rights that provide them a wide latitude of no control, the scenarios that citizens can present range from the mundane to sheer terror, even for a trained professional. With that thought, we continue to reflect on moments in the history of law enforcement we wish we could get back, the sacrifices of those that have paid the ultimate price on our behalf.
Indianapolis Police Department
Historically, Indianapolis has not liked police. In 1854, when the police force was first created, barely a year later, the 14 men of the department faced a riot while enforcing prohibition laws. This riot eventually led to the officers firing their guns. The aftermath of this led to citizens demanding the police be disbanded. By December, the department was disbanded. But months later, the police force was created again. But opposing views among the active political parties then let to it being shut down by May of 1856. When May 1857 came into view, a new vision of the city, and a new political party in charge led to creation of the police department yet again, this time for good.
By 1865 there was a Chief, two lieutenants, nine day-shift officers, 18 night-shift officers, two detectives, and 16 special officers. From there, the city grew large, far, and wide, and so did the police department. In 2007, the Marion County government, and the City of Indianapolis merged their departments together, forming the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. While the department started out in pre-conceived turmoil, they’ve established themselves long ago as a professional organization that serves citizens well. IMPD is recognized not only for their patrol division, but also for leading the cause of proper hiring standards and methods when accepting applicants for the police department.
Officer Teresa Jean Hawkins
Officer Hawkins was a five-year veteran of the Indianapolis Police Department. She came from a strong Irish heritage, and much of her immediate hailed from there, also moved to Tipton, Indiana where she grew up. By junior high she had her mind made up for a career in law enforcement, and had mentors in her life who also were in law enforcement, who encouraged her pursuit. She attended Ball State University, received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and began working for the Indiana Department of Correction at the Pendleton Correctional Facility as a Corrections Officer before being hired by IPD. She was a patrol officer with a special duty assigned to her, that of evidence technician. While she responded to calls, made traffic stops, and conducted the regular duties of patrol, she would also collect fingerprints, blood samples, and photograph crime scenes. Just shy of her three-year anniversary, she received a commendation in June 1991 for chasing down and arresting two vehicle thieves, and in another incident, arresting a man found to be shooting a gun in a neighborhood. The arrest led to an investigation of the neighborhood that uncovered that the man had murdered someone inside a home.
The intersection of Emerson Avenue & 36th Street is part of major traffic route during the day in Indianapolis, with Emerson hosting six lanes, three north and three south, carrying with it part of the daily work force in the city. At night, this part of Emerson isn’t as busy as. On Tuesday, August 17th, 1993, as Officer Hawkins approached 36th Street, a car was being driven too fast on 36th, and struck the driver side of Officer Hawkins vehicle. The driver of the car exited the vehicle and immediately ran from the area, only to be caught a short time later. The impact was so great, that the criminal managed to push Officer Hawkins’ patrol vehicle across the lanes of traffic into a utility pole. The criminal, Elvis Lacy, added a layer of irony to the scene, because in the year prior to this incident, he was the victim in an attempted murder in the same neighborhood, and Officer Hawkins had responded to stop the shooting, perpetrated by gang members. While they shot multiple times at Lacy, it’s believed because of Officer Hawkins swift response, those gang members were unable to carry out their ultimate plan of killing Lacy.
Elvis Lacy faced charges of reckless homicide, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and drunk driving resulting in a death. Lacy took a plea deal, that required he only plead guilty to one charge, a felony count of drunk driving resulting in a death. He was sentenced to eight years, with a graduated sentence of six to eight years in prison, and two years in a substance abuse treatment center. With good behavior, he could cut the sentence down to two years in prison and one year in treatment. Lacy was paroled on August 15th, 1997, having served a total of two and half years. Since that time, Lacy has been sentenced five times since being released, first on September 29th, 1999 for burglary and carrying a handgun without a license. Then on January 15th, 2004 he was sentenced for burglary again. On March 4th, 2004, he was sentenced for residential entry, a charge similar to burglary. And on July 15, 2005, another sentence for burglary, this time receiving 20 years, but now on parole. It’s sickening to think that all the hard work that Officer Hawkins put in amounts to our system giving a killer a revolving door to re-offend, over, and over, and over again.
Officer Hawkins’ father and mother, obviously hurt by the loss of their daughter, put together on of the most noble causes to honor any fallen officer. They created a scholarship fund in their daughter’s name, which awards a college scholarship to any graduating high school senior at Officer Hawkins’ high school, that is actively pursuing a career in criminal justice. Officer Hawkins was clearly a dedicated student to the cause of criminal justice, her background in evidence demonstrates that characteristic perfectly. We too take a moment to honor Officer Hawkins sacrifice on our behalf, and the beautiful legacy her family has instilled on her behalf.
In memory of Officer Teresa Jean Hawkins.