Working in public service can take its toll. The hours are long, and the workload typically involves an emotional contribution.
For members of the police department, keeping the community safe is of the utmost importance. But sometimes their investment and commitment to a higher calling comes at a price.
In May 2018, Indiana police officer Rob Pitts was killed tragically in a shootout.
Pitts, a 16-year veteran of the Terre Haute police force, was part of a team that responded to a call at an apartment complex where a suspected murderer had barricaded himself inside.
The standoff resulted in shots being fired from the second story of the complex, one of which struck Pitts, 45, who later passed away in the hospital.
His fellow officers were devastated, but his wife, two sons, and daughter felt the greatest loss.
“Rob is deeply missed, but we are grateful for the time we had with him. Thank you for your continued prayers,” Terre Haute police spokesman Ryan Adamson said in a statement obtained by The Daily Mail.
With the entire family grasping to make sense of the situation, their 5-year-old son Dakota missed a few days of school. On Monday, May 14, it was time to go back.
Dakota asked his mother if one of his dad’s friends could drop him off at school.
Shortly after his loss, Dakota frequently visited a memorial set up in his father’s honor. His father’s police car was adorned with flowers, balloons, and cards.
“Dear Dad, I love you and I miss you so much,” Dakota said while visiting the memorial. “Me and dad really liked this car.”
Already having experienced more tragedy than most will feel in a lifetime, the elementary schooler asked for a special escort as he returned to school.
“Dakota asked his mom if one of his dad’s friends could take him to school so she reached out to Rob’s friends and families,” Les Hamm, a detective with THPD said to WTHI-TV.
Not only was the police department willing to oblige, but they gave Dakota more support than he could have ever expected.
A total of 70 police officers lined the walkway as Dakota made his way to school.
“Blood doesn’t always make family and I think the blue family went above and beyond,” Kelli Jones, Pitts’ sister, said to WTHI-TV.
Dakota wore his father’s badge around his neck as special detectives, members of the SWAT team, and uniformed officers from two different police stations paid their respects to Dakota’s father and showed the 5-year-old much needed support.
The SWAT team gave Dakota his own SWAT shirt and badge, and assured him that they’ll “always have his back.”
“He will definitely know his dad was a hero,” Jones said.