Local Editorials

Our View: Officer's death is a loss for society

A McHenry County Sheriffs Department vehicle travels down West State Street to the Winnebago County coroners office in a procession honoring the service of McHenry County Sheriffs Deputy Jake Keltner at around 8pm on Thursday, March 7, 2019 in Rockford. Deputy Keltner was shot and killed earlier in the day attempting to execute a warrant at the hotel for Floyd Brown.
A McHenry County Sheriffs Department vehicle travels down West State Street to the Winnebago County coroners office in a procession honoring the service of McHenry County Sheriffs Deputy Jake Keltner at around 8pm on Thursday, March 7, 2019 in Rockford. Deputy Keltner was shot and killed earlier in the day attempting to execute a warrant at the hotel for Floyd Brown.

It’s easy for most of us to forget that every day, brave people such as Jacob Keltner put their lives on the line to protect the public. The flat, factual entries in the daily police reports fail to convey the danger inherent in stopping someone’s vehicle on the road or knocking on their door to take them to jail.

Keltner, 35, of Crystal Lake, was one of those who chose to serve the necessary and dangerous function of apprehending dangerous people to keep the rest of us safe.

On Thursday, Keltner, a veteran McHenry County Sheriff’s deputy working with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, was killed by a man the task force was trying to arrest at a Rockford hotel.

We extend our condolences to his friends, co-workers and family members in their time of loss. The long procession of police vehicles that escorted Keltner’s body to the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office on Thursday night and the many people who stopped to acknowledge his sacrifice are but one example of how our communities will rally behind him, his family and friends in this dark hour.

Our community has suffered a loss, as well.

We depend on people like Keltner and countless others who protect us every day. When there is danger, be it extreme elements or dangerous people, the police are the ones we call to protect the innocent and the defenseless.

There are hardened criminals in this world, and it is the job of officers and marshals to confront those whom many of us instinctively know to avoid.

Floyd Brown, 39, of Springfield is one such person. He was wanted on warrants from Champaign, Sangamon and McLean counties for burglary, and Bloomington police also wanted to arrest him in connection with a December incident in which he had injured two people by crashing a car into three other vehicles before driving off.

Bloomington police had warned the public that Brown was armed and dangerous. He’d talked in 2011 about being determined to shoot it out with police – on a jailhouse phone.

Someone had to stop this man, to stand up to him and bring him to justice before he hurt anyone else. Keltner was one of those who did. Unfortunately, he paid the ultimate price for it; Brown is charged in his homicide.

“The danger factor in today’s world is very high,” Rockford Deputy Police Chief John Pozzi said at a news conference Thursday.

Too often, we fail to appreciate the dangers and potential dangers that law enforcement officers face every day. As in so many cases, the things that go wrong are held up for scrutiny, while those that go right day-in, day-out pass unnoticed.

Thanks to those who, such as Keltner, take on the responsibility to confront and stop threats in our communities. We join the many voices expressing gratitude for his sacrifice and condolences to his friends, family and fellow officers.

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