MERRIAM, Kan. — One of the metro’s smaller police departments is facing a shock.
Doctors diagnosed two officers from the Merriam Police Department with cancer in the past two weeks, according to a department spokesperson. Officers within the agency are trying to provide some support for their loved ones in blue.
There’s a hint of concern in the air at the department, which sits just behind the IKEA store on Johnson Drive.
Maj. Darren McLaughlin and Cpl. Phil Lewis have a combined 46 years of service to this police force, and now, the health of both men is a serious concern.
Anne Lewis, whose husband has worked with police in Merriam for 19 years, got understandably emotional when discussing her husband’s health. Anne said a December colonoscopy revealed stage three colon cancer, and Phil can’t begin chemotherapy until he recovers from surgery.
“We need him to get better,” Anne said with a crack in her voice. “He’s a very determined man. He always wanted to be physically fit.”
“He’s really healthy and really strong before this, so to see him not that way right now has been difficult. We’re ready for him to get out of the hospital.”
McLaughlin has spent 29 years at the same law enforcement agency. A police spokesperson said McLaughlin is doing as well as can be expected, having received treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Capt. Troy Duvenal said McLaughlin is out of the hospital, but there’s more chemotherapy to come.
“It’s especially hard on a department our size. We’re only 32 officers,” Duvenal said Tuesday.
“They are part of the backbone of this agency. They’re both great officers and great people,” Duvenal said. “They’d do anything for anyone. I know it’s hard for them at this time. Officers aren’t good at asking for help. We’re trying to help them the best way we can.”
Merriam police are asking for donations the community to help the Lewis and McLaughlin families. The department first shared this news with the public on Monday with a Facebook post.
Anne Lewis said the money will help pay bills, but the emotional support she’s receiving helps get her through each day.
If you’d like to help, you can donate at the police department. Also, the nonprofit Answering the Call is also accepting contributions for both officers. You can reach that group on Facebook.