'He was a protector', Nebraska pauses to remember fallen police officer
As National Police Week comes to a close, Nebraska is paying tribute to its law enforcement who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice while serving.
Friday, a police officer from Thurston County was honored in Grand Island, during the annual Police Memorial Day Service.
"Today we are gathered here to remember the men and women who have given their lives in service to our state and community, in the line of duty," said Governor Pete Ricketts (R-NE).
Omaha Nation Police Sergeant Curtis Blackbird lost his life on March 26, 2017 after his cruiser crashed while responding to a call.
However, the memorial did not focus on how he died, rather the way he lived. He was a servant to his community.
"Sergeant Blackbird served our country in the Army, then as an EMT before joining the police force," Ricketts said.
Sgt. Blackbird was also a teacher.
"He coached me and he mentored and he made me the officer that I am. He helped mold the officer that I am today, thanks Grandpa Curt," said Sgt. William Webster of the Omaha Nation Police Department.
Family also described Sgt. Blackbird as a defender of justice.
"According to our ways, he was a [speaking in native language], protector. Those guys are stern. That person would jump into harm's way to protect you, without thinking about it. Curtis possessed those qualities. But he also had that [speaking in native language], it's flesh, it's soft. It's full of that love that God put in there. He had that side of him too," said Jeff Gilpin, Sgt. Blackbird’s brother.
Sergeant Blackbird's wife of 37 years, broke down at the sight of her husband's name, now etched into Nebraska’s wall of remembrance.
His bother told NTV News the day he died, started off just as any other. A goodbye to his wife and their adopted sons and a special request for dinner.
"He said fix me some beef soup with corn in it. So she prepared it," Gilpin said. "She called him and said 'Curt, supper's ready. Why don't you come home and eat?' He said 'I'm busy right now, I'll eat when I get home.' But he died in that accident." Gilpin said.
Now, because of the way he chose to live Sergeant Blackbird's life will never be forgotten.
A memorial paver was also added to remember Saunders County corrections officer Tanner Hauck who died while serving, but not in the line of duty.