Tecumseh Honors Fallen Police Officer During ‘Frontier Days’
TECUMSEH, Oklahoma - People lined the streets of Tecumseh to celebrate the city’s annual Frontier Days, but the parade crowd also paused to remember who they lost, officer Justin Terney. The fallen officer's unit 16 led the charge. Inside the car sat his mother, Holly Terney, and his German Shepherd, Onyx.
“He wanted to be a K9 officer,” said Holly, "and that was always his dream, to have a dog. First, to be a police officer and then his dog."
Terney's dream was cut short on March 27 when he died after a shootout with a man who ran from a traffic stop.
The 22-year-old new recruit with the Tecumseh Police Department had just gotten Onyx, a puppy at the time that he had hoped to start training.
“It was hard on everybody and our community,” said Deputy Jared Strand with the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office and Onyx’s new handler. "We're real fortunate here in Pottawatomie County to have the citizens that we do because they all came together and basically helped us through it. It's an honor to have him in our department."
Since Terney's death, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's office has taken Onyx under its wing, training him to become a drug dog.
“He's way ahead of schedule,” said Deputy Strand. “He's picked up his narcotics work like no other.”
It's a tenacity Holly remembers in her son.
"A lot of go-get,” she said. “I can’t really say that much about him either without crying. He's a beautiful dog.”
“One of the big things that helps a lot of people,” said Deputy Strand, "is knowing that he's going to work and he's going to be out on the streets in remembrance of Justin."
Onyx is going through the certification process and is expected to be ready to hit the streets to serve and to protect in the coming weeks.
As law enforcement agencies have each other's back, the community also shows support for its peacekeepers and heroes, which was the theme of the event.
“It looks like it's all going to come together without Justin," Holly said, "but it's all still the same."