EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — East Peoria Police are remembering a fallen officer almost a century after his death, while recognizing current members of the department.
Henry P. Kounse was shot and killed on the job on Feb. 10, 1931.
Kounse was trying to apprehend a fleeing suspect when the suspect shot him. Police said to this day, Kounse is the only East Peoria officer killed in the line of duty.
On Monday, police honored him inside the city’s Festival Building with their annual end-of-watch ceremony.
“It’s one of those things that is sad that it’s not celebrated every year and it should be,” Richard Brodrick, East Peoria’s police chief, said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do with the department now is make sure that that’s never forgotten and it’s done every single year, no matter how big or small, we want to make sure that he’s honored for the sacrifice that he gave.”
Monday’s ceremony featured bagpipes, a biography of Kounse, and a presentation of flowers for his relatives who were in attendance.
Nina Kelly, Kounse’s great-great-great-niece, was one of his relatives in the audience. She said sitting through the ceremony was emotional.
“We attended for the first time last year and it’s just amazing that the city of East Peoria honors his memory and just honors the department as well,” Kelly said. “Thankfully, at the same time as well that’s been the only death that’s occurred during a watch.”
She said the memorial was not only in remembrance of Kounse’s sacrifice but also a reminder of what officers face every day.
“Protecting the community it’s, sometimes, a thankless job and you know they literally put their lives on the line,” Kelly said. “It’s just a major sacrifice and we’re just so thankful that they do what they are able to do for us.”
After the ceremony, there was also a presentation of police officer awards. Brodrick said 14 officers, along with other members of the department, received recognition and some officers were given more than one award.
“This is what these people [officers] do every day to show that they care, that they’re out there working hard and are trying to make civility the common practice,” Brodrick said.