- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Jacen Troxell is 8 years old. He is a Cub Scout and plays soccer and basketball. He has blue eyes and blond hair. One of his adult front teeth is just starting to grow in.

But don’t let his youth fool you. This soon-to-be third-grader has raised at least $13,000 to buy bulletproof plates for the 16 or so Indianapolis police officers who worked the same shift as Perry Renn.

Renn, 51, was killed in the line of duty July 5 during an altercation with a man with an assault rifle. Jacen’s dad, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Detective Andrew Troxell, worked with Renn and was a pallbearer at his funeral.

The reasoning behind Jacen’s fundraising effort is simple. “Because they protect us, and with more of them dying, there’s less people to protect us,” he told The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1kdRniI ), nestled next to his mom in a red T. rex shirt in the family’s living room.

A similar goal has been set by the Indianapolis Police Foundation of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, which is trying to raise enough money to provide every IMPD officer with the bulletproof plates.

The vests the officers now wear protect against the most common weapons, but the addition of the plates offer further protection, IMPD spokesman Sgt. Kendale Adams said. Each one, which fits either the front or back, costs about $300, he said.

Indianapolis FOP Vice President Rick Snyder said the fundraising initiative will be promoted with a blue-light campaign, in which community members are encouraged to display blue lights in honor of the police. FOP members have seen a large response to the campaign since Renn’s death, and the fundraising is a way people can tangibly support the police, he said. People can donate online on the FOP’s website, https://www.fop86.org/.

The burgeoning communitywide campaign is similar to an earlier effort to buy officers trauma kits, which can help officers deal with injuries on the scene. Snyder said that effort occurred as a result of the shooting of officer Jason Fishburn, who no longer works at IMPD.

Although Snyder said the community response to Renn’s death has been moving, he said it shouldn’t take a tragedy for community members to show support for the police. People should look to how they can do that regularly, he said.

If Jacen Troxell’s fundraiser is any indication, communitywide efforts to provide plates for all IMPD officers could see success.

Jacen’s fundraiser, at gofundme.com, had 214 donations over the course of nine days. The initial goal of $10,000 was reached in a few days.

“On MLK Jr. Day when I (Jacen) was 4, I wished that police officers won’t get killed,” the online campaign’s description reads. “It didn’t come true. My dad’s friends have been killed in the line of duty. His friend and partner for 9 years, Perry, got shot by a rifle and he died. We are raising money to buy bullet proof plates so that won’t happen again.”

Some donors wrote notes to go with their donations.

“Very inspiring how determined these boys are to help make a difference,” one woman wrote with her $20 donation. “I hope this project and their inspiration becomes contagious around the country.”

One woman gave $900, with a note that she hoped her donation put the fundraiser over its goal of $10,000.

“It’s all the cash I had in my purse!” another one wrote with her donation of $8.

One anonymous donor gave $1,800.

Andrew Troxell said the leftover money from Jacen’s fundraiser will go toward the larger effort to buy plates for all officers.

“The department really does not have the money to give every street officer these plates that they need to stop these assault rifle rounds,” he said.

“It is sad that it took an event like the death of officer Renn for this to happen,” he said. “I’m sure he’d be very, very happy to know that, you know, his death was not in vain.”

Jacen’s mother, Tracy Troxell, is searching for the words to describe her son and his efforts.

“Proud doesn’t seem to be good enough anymore,” she said. “He’s pretty amazing.”


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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