EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The East Peoria Police Department honored their sole officer to die in the line of duty at a Monday memorial service.
Patrolman Henry P. Kounse was shot and killed on Feb. 10, 1931 while apprehending a suspect.
“We just couldn’t be more happy to be able to remember the legacy that Henry P. Kounse left …The biggest exciting thing this year is he has family members…so we’re thrilled about that,” said Deputy Chief David Horn, East Peoria Police Department.
The memorial service began with an honor guard and bagpipes. Multiple speakers took the stand to remember Kounse and the greatest sacrifice an officer could make.
Horn said the annual police memorial happened every year until 2010. He decided to revive the memorial service last year, but this year’s ceremony is the first “big” one in a long time.
“This is very important because anyone whose life is lost in the line of duty should never be forgotten,” said Horn.
Five of Kounse’s descendants attended the ceremony, including great-niece Lisa Kounse-Mueller.
“I feel really thankful that the police department is acknowledging his sacrifice for the department and for the community. I’m just happy to be here and share in the moment,” she said.
Horn said the East Peoria Police Department had two close calls last year.
“Officer [Karson] Klyber has been making a remarkable recovery, and last year we had Officer [Jeffrey] Bieber, who was stabbed many times in the head and was lucky to be alive,” he said.
Klyber suffered a severe spinal cord injury after getting struck by a drunk driver. Doctors told him he had just 10% chance of walking again, but he beat the odds.
“I’m walking, and I’m jogging and attempting to run. So it’s just taking it day by day and seeing where I’ll end up…When I heard there was a 10% chance I was like ok at least there’s a chance, and it’s time to prove people wrong that I can do it,” he said.
Klyber participated in the honor guard ceremony. It was his first time back at the station since the accident.
“It’s a pretty exciting feeling. I like seeing everybody I used to work with and all the camaraderie is still there,” he said.
Following the memorial service, there was an officer award presentation.
National Police Week is May 15-21.