Police organize 5K9 race where dogs are welcome in fallen K9 officer’s honor

Preparations underway for inaugural 5K9

CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - It’s been three months since Sergeant Ben Bertram was killed in a crash during a high speed chase through Clark and Scott Counties.

In that time, the Charlestown Police Department and community have been grieving the loss of one of their own and finding ways to honor Sgt. Ben Bertram’s memory.

On Tuesday, it’s quiet outside Charlestown High School, a very different image from the December day the community laid Sgt. Bertram to rest. For those who knew Ben, time hasn’t eased their pain.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Registration for Inaugural Sgt. Bertram Memorial 5K-9 now open

“You know, you make it from one day to the next," said Major Jason Broady, who’s a detective with the Charlestown Police Department. “And as bad as we hurt everyday, you know, I don’t think about how I feel, I think about how his family feels."

Ben Bertram with one of his K9 partners.
Ben Bertram with one of his K9 partners. (Source: Charlestown Police Department)

Bertram was a dedicated K9 handler to his dogs Kubo and Franco. His co-workers say he was a good officer, fun to be around, always cracking jokes or doing impersonations.

“Great guy. He was the dude that as soon as he came in the room, he was looking for a way to make everybody laugh,” Charlestown Police Officer Brandon Lyons said.

”I mean, he was just an all-around good guy," Brody said. “He was a great officer to work with but he was a great friend as well. I think that’s the thing that’s the hardest for all of us is, we lost a coworker but we also lost a great friend. It’s like losing a family member.”

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Broady said seeing the community’s support out lining the streets the day the brought Sgt. Bertram back to Charlestown meant so much to the department. They’re hopeful they’ll see the same community support at Charlestown High School April 20 as they host a 5K in Bertram’s honor.

"You know, they feel the support from the community already, they know this community and the people around here have their back. But if you're one of those family members and you're here that day and you see all these people showing up at this event, I can't even put into words how that would probably make them feel,” Broady said.

The 5K9 race is named in honor of their fallen K9 handler. All dogs will be welcomed on the route with those walking or running the race. And of course, police K9′s are invited, too.

“But we hope we can get as many local K9′s and even non-local K9′s. I mean, if there’s any K9 officers from anywhere that want to show up, that would be great," Broady said.

They’ve extended that invite to include Ben’s dogs, Kubo and Franco, as well.

“We’ll just leave that as a surprise but we’re certainly hoping they’ll be able to make it here," Broady said.

In the now three months since Bertram’s death, the loss hasn’t gotten any easier.

"No,” Broady said. “It’s day by day.”

But he and the department hope that by establishing this 5K9 race in Sgt. Bertram’s honor, they can keep his memory alive here for years to come.

Money raised from the 5K9 this year will go toward sending Sgt. Bertram’s family and the police department to Washington D.C. to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Police hope to use proceeds from the 5K9 race in future years to establish a scholarship fund and help pay for K9 training for officers in the area.

Donate to the Go Fund Me page here.

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