COLUMBIA CITY —”This can be a unifying moment and a great opportunity to remember and remind all of us of the service and sacrifice police officers make to keep us safe.”

Pastor Johnny McCallister led last week’s memorial service for Whitley County Sheriff’s K9 Cas, who was killed in the line of duty July 10. Cas was killed in a fiery crash on U.S. 30, ending a three-county police pursuit of an individual accused of carjacking.

Law enforcement officers from all over the state of Indiana converged in Columbia City last week for a memorial service with full honors for Cas, who had been a commissioned officer since 2017, first with the Columbia City Police Department, then later transferring to the WCSD with her handler, Gary Archbold.

The service was held at First Church of God in Columbia City, and the church’s parking lot was filled with dozens of police vehicles from those supporting Whitley County’s law enforcement officers. In addition, members of the public, elected officials, and city and county government employees were in attendance.

“She was universally loved by our community,” McCallister said. “She didn’t carry all the baggage that us humans carry. She didn’t care about the color of your skin. She was oblivious to whether you were rich or poor. She did not care if you were young or old, or who had a PhD or who dropped out of high school. She performed her duty without prejudice. She was trained and called upon to the most dangerous work in law enforcement. We would all do well to learn from Cas.”

Sheriff Marc Gatton spoke on some of Cas and Archbold’s memorable moments, such as them receiving the Outstanding Service Award from the North American Police Work Dog Association in 2018.

“In the short time Cas was in service with the Columbia City Police Department and Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Archbold and Cas excelled,” Gatton said.

Gatton spoke words of encouragement to local officers.

“I once thought in police work I had things figured out,” Gatton said. “Last Wednesday, I did not. As we all mourn and heal differently, I reach out to everyone to understand that we’re in this together. We will stand together.”

Chief Deputy Jason Spencer was once a K9 handler himself.

“You have a partner that will never call in sick. They’ll never complain about how hot or how cold it is outside. A partner that everyone loves,” Spencer said. “We honor Cas and what she stood for. On July 10, 2019, she was doing exactly what she loved — serving along Gary and protecting this community.”

While on duty, Cas was Archbold’s partner. While off-duty, she was part of the Archbold family. Pastor McCallister shared words from Deputy Archbold:

“When I went to F.M. K9 to pick out a dog, I was certain it would be a male. A brindle Dutch Shepherd. We saw a couple of dogs, and then she came out. Beautiful, petite, blonde. She leapt into my arms and I remember looking at (CCPD chief) Tony Hively and thinking, this is the one.”

Mike McHenry ran Cas through some exercises and took her back to her kennel, showing Archbold and Hively some other K9s.

“He brought out a few more dogs, but it was pointless. My mind was made up.”

Archbold met Cas in January, but wouldn’t be bringing her home to Columbia City until March. During that time, he made several 1.5-hour trips to F.M. K9 in Michigan to “hang out” with Cas.

“As we went through training, our bond grew. And, like any other relationship, we had our ups and downs. As sweet as she was, she sure was bull-headed. Especially when it came to her ball. It took almost 1.5 years until she would give up that ball without a fight. And when I say fight — I mean fight.”

One day, it finally happened.

“We’d come full circle. I gave her the command and she laid the ball at my feet. Almost as if she was saying, I trust you completely now, and I know you’ll give it back to me.

“We were inseparable — almost to the point that it was probably annoying to people. But on the job, she was my guardian. She was my protector. She was my eyes and ears. She was my nose.”

Archbold’s wife, Marcy, rode with Archbold and Cas one night — Marcy noted how anxious Cas became when Archbold approached a vehicle during a traffic stop, leaving her behind in the car.

“The whole time she would watch and whine and pace until I returned to the car. Once she knew I was back and everything was good, she would lay down and relax.

“I love her with all my heart and will miss her everyday. The love and support my family and I have received from our Blue family and the community is remarkable. Although it’s been a tough week, all the support has made this easier for us.”

McCallister went on to speak about law enforcement officers and the sacrifices they make.

“In your time of sorrow and grief, place your hand in God’s hand, because his hand is bigger than yours,” he concluded.

The procession went from First Church of God, down West Lincolnway, through a large crowd of Whitley County 4-Hers who lined the street waving American flags in honor of Cas. The procession traveled into downtown Columbia City paused in front of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, where Cas’ last call was played over the police radio:

“This is the final call for Whitley County Sheriff’s Department K9 Cas. K9 Cas faithfully served the citizens of Columbia City and Whitley County from April 1, 2017, until she answered her final call on July 10, 2019 at 15:58 hours. Our condolences to her handler Deputy Gary Archbold and his family that worked with her daily to make sure she was the best she could be. Whitley County Sheriff’s Department Unit 92-K3 is 10-42 for the final time. Rest in peace, you will forever be remembered.”

The procession ended at Greenhill Cemetery, where a final service was held with honors from the Indiana Sheriff’s Association.

“Cas gave herself to protect — not only to Archbold, but everyone in this community. For that, we are deeply grateful. Gary, I am deeply sorry for your loss,” Pastor David Wagner said.

During the week, flags were ordered to half-staff by Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel and the Whitley County Commissioners and Indiana Sheriff’s Association.

The following day, at the Whitley County 4-H Fair, a special item was added to the auction — donated items for the Whitley County Humane Society, and a wood-carved statue of Cas. The items were purchased for $7,030 by a large group of buyers. The memorial was placed in the lobby at the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department.