FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As they do every week, the Fort Wayne Police Pipe and Drum Brigade met at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge Tuesday afternoon to rehearse.
Unfortunately, the next time they play together will be at the funeral for fallen Richmond police officer Seara Burton.
This is the second time in a matter of months the pipe and drum brigade will play at an Indiana police officer’s funeral.
Deputy Chief Mitch McKinney is the commander of the brigade. He also plays the snare drum.
“When things like this happen, it really hits, not only the officer, but the officer’s family, and that community of Richmond Indiana, as well as it did in Elwood,” Deputy Chief McKinney said. “So, we make sure that we make ourselves available so that their officers and their families have time to grieve. We come to their communities and take care of the police needs that they may have.”
The brigade played together for the first time in 2004. The idea came about after FWPD lost Officer Brad Matteson in 2000.
A fellow officer played the bagpipes at Matteson’s funeral. It sparked the idea of forming a band that can play whenever they’re needed.
The pipe major for the group is Sergeant Jonathan Cutler. He’s one of the original members from 2004.
Sgt. Cutler feels that the music played at funerals is important. He said it brings a solemn sense of importance and brings out emotions.
“Being a part of the pipe and drums, it becomes a duty to be there to honor the fallen officer, to show the family how much they meant to us as a community through the use of our music,” Sgt. Cutler said. “Obviously, an officer has made the ultimate sacrifice and the only thing we can do at this point is be there for each other.”
Generally, other bagpipe players come from around the Midwest. From time to time, police officers from departments as far as the east and west coasts will join to support their fellow officers.
The support from the bagpipe and drums players are meant for many. It’s for fellow law enforcement. It’s for that community. According to Deputy Chief McKinney, it’s most important to be there to support the fallen officer’s family.
Doing it for the families is what makes playing at funerals an easier task.
“You have to get your mind set that you’re doing it for the family,” he said. “When you think about how difficult it is for them to lose their loved one, then it all comes from your heart.”
The Fort Wayne Police Pipe and Drum Brigade isn’t sure exactly when they’ll be traveling to Richmond yet, but when they get the “pipes up, drums up” text from their state pipe major, they’ll be ready.