Bremen Police honor fallen officers
A small crowd gathered around the flagpole in front of the police department in Bremen Saturday morning. They anxiously awaited the unveiling of a rock commemorating the service of Bremen police officers Tony Swartzlander and Chad Beeson. Both officers were killed —Swartzlander in the line of duty, in 1981 and Beeson while on active duty in 2003 in a car accident.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Sergeant Steve Pittman. “We wanted to do this years ago.”
The police department began fundraising for the stone soon after Beeson’s death in October 2003, but had trouble raising the complete amount needed for the engraved memorial. Eight years later, the police department’s dream of creating a tribute to the two officers has been realized. The inscription on the stone, carved by Rich Yoder, reads:
“Honoring those who currently serve us, remembering those who have gone before us.”
Underneath the quote are Swartzlander and Beeson’s names and the dates of their birth and death.
Bremen Police Chief Matthew Hassel spoke briefly on the significance of the day. May 15 is national Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, and also the beginning of Police Week. Sarah Talley, a Bremen High School student, sang the national anthem. Retired police chief Jim Brown, who was chief when Swartzlander was killed, shared his memories of Swartzlander.
“We lost one of our finest, and a man who was my great friend,” said Brown of Swartzlander.
Barry Beeson, father of Chad Beeson, also spoke about his son. Pittman closed the ceremony with words of encouragement for those present.
“This is your rock — not mine, not the police department’s — it is for the community,” said Pittman. “It you are walking by and want to pull up a few weeds, go ahead.”
The crowd laughed appreciatively, lightening the mood. The memorial stone was uncovered and a moment of silence shared by all as they observed the tribute to the police officer’s service.