EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) –- Nearly one year after the death of Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen, Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns shared his thoughts on how the department and the community has evolved as a result of the tragedy.
Sunday, April 22, 2012, marks the one-year anniversary of Kilcullen's death. The 12-year veteran of the Eugene Police force died after being shot during a traffic stop and police chase.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012, NewsSource 16 sat down with Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns to talk about what he's seen change in that last year. Kerns said in one year he's witnessed change community wide.
“He (Officer Kilcullen) served individuals on every encounter so well; he set a good example for all of us,” said Kerns.
While the department remains fundamentally unchanged in how it operates, Kerns said he continues to see a greater sense of selflessness since the tragedy, which he says is a direct reflection of Officer Kilcullen' conduct. Kerns said the department has also become more tightly-knit.
Over the last several years, Kerns said the department has worked to rebuild trust with the community. While it is something Kerns says he never wished would have happened, he says Kilcullen's death has helped bridge a gap of respect that existed between the department and the community.
Chief Kerns said the trust-building is fitting, since that was huge part of Officer Kilcullen's character: treating everyone with respect.
“That combination of factors I think has put us in a good place. We have Chris to thank for that,” says Kerns.
Kerns sas respect and helping others is something that will continue in the community into the future in Officer Kilcullen's name.
“Perhaps the most amazing response to all of this has been from Chris' family. His wife Kristie and his father John have led efforts both in the legislature and in terms of extending Chris' legacy - his very generous nature - into the future,” said Kerns.
Saturday, April 21, 2012, the first memorial scholarship established in Officer Kilcullen's name will be awarded to two local students in a private ceremony. The money the recipients receive will help them attend the University of Oregon and Northwest Christian University in Eugene.
Eugene Police will also honor Officer Kilcullen with a memorial at the new police department now being remodeled on Country Club Road.
Officer Kilcullen's name will also be added to law enforcement memorials in Salem and in Washington D.C. in May 2012.