KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A ceremony honoring fallen Kansas City, Missouri, police officers hit the department extra hard Thursday.
Kansas City police moved the service inside headquarters because of the morning rain.
The dreary weather matched the hearts of many of the officers in attendance as they remembered the life and dedication of a fallen colleague.
Officer James Muhlbauer and his K9 Champ were remembered during the service.
The pair died Feb. 15, after a driver allegedly ran a red light and crashed into Muhlbauer’s KCPD patrol car.
“They were being the public servants the city needs, keeping watch and keeping people safe. In a moment we lost both of them. I will never ever forget that night. We the KCPD will never ever forget Jim and Champ,” KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said.
Muhlbauer’s family, parents, and friends attended the service.
“This police department loves you and keeps you. We, the KCPD, will never forget Jim and Champ,” Graves said.
In March, Muhlbauer’s name was etched into the memorial that stands outside the department’s headquarters. His name became the 120th name on the memorial.
“This is like constant scabs being ripped off a wound. Just when you start to feel like everything’s getting better something else is brought up. It rips a scab off,” said Chris Smith, Muhlbauer’s brother-in-law.
Smith said all Muhlbauer ever wanted to do was to become a K9 officer.
“It was a big moment, a big moment. Imagine reaching your personal accomplishment. It was very much the same experience,” Smith said.
Smith said Muhlbauer loved being a part of the K9 unit. Muhlbauer’s dedication is part of the legacy he leaves with the department.
“Jim’s professional legacy isn’t a memory. It’s written in stone and we will all get to see it every day,” Smith said.
A name of one fallen officer was broadcast over police radios every hour for 119 hours leading up to the ceremony.
Muhlbauer was also honored at Missouri’s Fallen Officers ceremony in Jefferson City.