On Nov. 3, 1988, Nappanee police Sgt. Brant “Butch” Nine was just doing his job. On that day, doing his job cost Nine his life.
Sgt. Nine responded to a call at Newcomer Jewelry Store where Michael Steele, then 24, was reportedly trying to pass a bad check. Nine confronted Steele and a struggle began. Steele ended up shooting Nine with the policeman’s own gun.
Butch Nine died as a result of his injuries. He left behind a wife and children, along with friends on the Nappanee Police Department and in the community.
He was missed then. He is missed still.
FOR 25 YEARS NOW, Sgt. Nine has been honored during a public memorial service in Nappanee. That celebration of Nine’s life will again take place Sunday. In keeping with the wishes of Nine’s surviving family members, it will be the last such public memorial.
A procession will leave the Nappanee Police Department at 4:40 p.m. to travel to Bremen Cemetery for a service. At 6 p.m., a reception will begin at Grace Point Church in Nappanee.
The News encourages the Nappanee community to turn out in honoring the fallen policeman. We also urge everyone to take a moment to reflect on just what it means to be a police officer.
For law enforcement personnel, risk is an on-the-job-reality that is ever-present. There’s potential danger in even a seemingly “routine” call. Too many officers have paid the ultimate price when duty called.
Consider Phil Hochstetler, the second officer at the scene the day Nine was killed. Nearly six years after the Newcomer Jewelry encounter, he was killed in the line of duty as member of the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department.
REMEMBER ROD BRADWAY, a Nappanee native and Indianapolis police officer who was shot to death earlier this year. And remember Goshen policeman Thomas Goodwin, shot and killed in Brookside Manor Mobile Home Park on Dec. 11, 1998.
Our public servants, just like the men listed above, willingly put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf. We cannot thank them enough.
Sunday will mark the last public memorial for Nappanee Police Sgt. Brant “Butch” Nine. It will be a time to honor a man just doing his job.
Good job, Sgt. Nine.