Community mourns fallen Racine Police Officer

NOW: Community mourns fallen Racine Police Officer


RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Dozens of people stopped by the memorial police car outside of the Racine Police Department Wednesday to pay their respects to fallen Officer John Hetland on the day of his funeral.

“I just wanted to pay respects to an amazing officer, friend, and outstanding community member,” Amanda Schmidt said.

Many lined the procession route waving flags or with their hands over their hearts.

“He was off duty, but he still did his job,” Tom Boehler, said. “A cop is never off duty.”

All day dozens of people dropped off flowers and taped handwritten notes to the memorial squad car.

“I think he died a hero and it’s just really sad the way it happened,” Nicholas Kamakian said.

Tributes coming from as far away as New York and even from Officer Hetland’s son who left a bobber and fishing lure on the memorial car.

“He’s an amazing man and he’s someone that will never be forgotten through my family, friends our community,” Schmidt said.

There was a massive law enforcement response supporting Hetland. Officers came from all over Wisconsin, Chicago, New York City and North Carolina to pay their respects.

"He's a hero," Wisconsin State Trooper Michael Lawson said.  "While he didn't need to he responded to his training. He saw someone that needed some help, and he stepped up and made the ultimate sacrifice."

Dozens of Racine Police cars poured into West Lawn Memorial Park for the burial. In order to let Racine officers grive, the Kenosha Police Department and Racine County Sheriff's Office sent their officers to patrol Racine streets and take calls.

“It's an honor, for all of us to be here," Milwaukee Police Honor Guard Officer Eric Smith said. "To be here and help represent the city of Milwaukee, give him the honor he deserves  at the funeral, so he can remember and make sure that he gets the sending off that he earned."

A donation fund has been established through Band of Blue, a non-profit organization, to help the children of Officer Hetland. If you would like to donate, please click here. 

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