Officer John Clarke died today, after collapsing at a local gym. The news came as a shock to local police. Officers, left mourning the death of the man many refer to as the "Gentle Giant."
Officer John Clarke is highly regarded in the eyes of Lincoln Police Officers. He was off duty and at the gym when he collapsed suddenly. CPR was performed but he didn't make it.
Officer Clarke was the head of the K–9 Unit with LPD. He was a mentor to many young officers and he received several honors for going above and beyond the call of duty.
"This is a thick personnel file–and so he made a different in a lot of people's lives. While he was on the department and we certainly wind up appreciating that and we're gonna miss him," Chief Jim Peschong shared one of those examples.
He saved an elderly man's life. The Alzheimer's victim disappeared and after hours of searching, the units were released. Determined to find him, Clarke and his K-9 didn't give up.
"Had it not been for John Clarke's persistence, the man would not have been discovered until morning. John's actions most definitely saved the man's life," Chief said.
Officer Clarke was awarded with life saving and exceptional duty awards for this extreme act of kindness. Chief Peschong said Officer Clarke would take the shirt off his own back to help someone.
Many officers aspire to be the kind of man he was. And the Chief said a lot of soul searching will happen over the next few days as the officers appreciate their memories with Officer Clarke.
"I think we're all going to be going through the grieving process right now. I think the reality hasn't quite sunk in as well and the next couple of days as we work through that, reality will in fact sink in and we'll move forward," Chief said.
Officer Clarke's K-9, Bursey Reemo, will most likely be retired after the loss of his handler.
Clarke also played for the NEbraska Football Team, Class of 1990. We even got an email from a fellow friend, who said John was their "Gentle Giant" as well.