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Memorial services held for Gary police officer Jeffrey Westerfield

Law enforcement officials from across the region gather to say goodbye to Gary Officer Jeffrey Westerfield.
Dozens of Gary police officers salute the family of Officer Jeffrey Westerfield, killed in the line of duty, during an emotional visitation for the veteran patrolman.

A special police ceremony began the visitation for one of Gary's own. Exactly a week after Westerfield was killed in the line of duty, hundreds of mourners came to the Genesis Center to pay their respects.

The 47-year-old father of five was known on the force as a kind soft spoken officer who was great at his job.

"Jeff Westerfield was one of my training officers, probably one of the best training officers I've had," said Cmdr. Pete Sormaz, Gary Police Department.

Last Sunday, Westerfield was found shot to death in his squad car on Gary's far west side after he answered a domestic disturbance call. A good chunk of time had passed before his body was discovered by a nearby resident. A suspect is in custody, being held on a warrant violation.

While Gary's police chief is confident they have the right man, murder charges have yet to be filed.

"Of course, this is a police officer killed in the line of duty, so it may result in the death penalty," Chief Wade Ingram said. "There is a higher threshold if it is a death penalty case, so we want to make sure we get all the evidence together."

It's been seven years since the Gary Police Department lost an officer in the line of duty. The death of Westerfield has hit the department hard and the chief says support from different police departments has been a huge comfort.

"I'm really overwhelmed by the amount of support we're getting from police agencies as far as Austria and across the nation," he said.

Westerfield was killed on his birthday. He was a Gary officer for 19 years. Sunday, his family chose not to make any public statements.

"The family is doing well under the circumstances," said Joe Hamer, Chairman, Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police. "They are holding up and dealing with this one day at a time."

Westerfield is survived by four daughters, a son and a fiance. The slain officer's funeral is scheduled for 11 o'clock Monday morning at the Genesis Center. It will be followed by a lengthy procession to the Chapel Lawn Cemetary in Shererville.

Chief Ingram has changed his policy. All officers on the midnight shift will work in two man cars.

ABC7 will be live streaming the funeral starting at 11 a.m. Monday on ABC7Chicago.com.
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