Terre Haute Police Officer Rob Pitts was killed in the line of duty while serving the community where his family lives in Indiana. The community mourned him, fellow enforcement honored him, and even the governor acknowledged the loss. But the grief was felt most by the family he left behind, including his wife and young son.
Dakota Pitts, the five-year-old son of the fallen police officer, obviously was in mourning and missed his dad very much. After getting through the initial stages of loss, he was hit by another daunting challenge — returning to school without his dad by his side.
Dakota asked his mom if any of the police officers who served with his dad would be willing to drive him to school so he wouldn’t feel so alone. He young boy would soon find out that he definitely wasn’t — and isn’t going to be — alone!
“Dakota asked his mom if one of his dad’s friends could take him to school so she reached out to Rob’s friends and families,” Les Hamm of the Terre Haute Police Department told WTHI-TV.
When Dakota got to the school — his first day back after losing his dad — there were 70 police officers from the Terre Haute Police Department and the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department waiting to welcome him and let him know that they are all there for him. Dakota was a little overwhelmed but extremely grateful for the surprise.
“He will definitely know his dad was a hero,” said Kelli Jones, Officer Pitts’ sister. “Blood doesn’t always make family and I think the blue family went above and beyond.”
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While Dakota was already wearing his father’s police badge around his neck, the officers gave him his own SWAT badge and shirt.
A week earlier, the Pitts family shared a message with WTHI-TV from Dakota that he wanted his dad to hear in Heaven. That message simply read, “Dear Dad, I love you and I miss you so much.”
Watch the whole story in the video below!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.