Parade of Lights: Local officers show support for South Bend Police legend

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Friday was an emotional day as officers with the South Bend Police Department and surrounding agencies came together to show support for one of their own. In a story you will only see here on WNDU, Christine Karsten explains why this was much more than just a parade of lights.

“I lay my badge down and pass these duties onto those who will continue to do the job that I loved with honor and devotion for over 51 years,” said Retired Officer Doc Milliken as he was signing off one final time three years ago. For more than 51 years, he worked the same beat, earning him the title “The Mayor of River Park.”

Doc loved being a cop for several reasons. Every day was a new adventure. He was constantly meeting new people and he got to ride around in a Crown Vic that was broken in just right.

”You have been an icon, a hero, and an inspiration to a lot of people. We hope retirement is relaxing and wonderful,” You can hear a dispatcher say during that final call. After five decades of service, a relaxing and wonderful retirement was well deserved. That’s what makes this call so heartbreaking…

”I might have dropped the phone, I think, when I first got the news about his terminal illness, and there is nothing anyone can do about it,” explains South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski.

That’s what brought all these officers to the corner of Jackson and Miami in South Bend. So, they could give back to an officer who gave his all to our city.

”I can assure you 100 percent, Doc is not the type of person to sulk or sorrow. He just asked for a couple of things and those things were granted and we are about the grant the other one,” continued Chief Ruszkowski. “He actually asked if he could see a bunch of his fellow officers, driving by his house with lights, with lights and sirens.”

That is exactly what he got.

57 police cars, representing four different departments, driving by his house with lights and sirens. A few who knew him well, unable to pass without saying something to an old friend. ”What I told him last time we, you know, thank you so much, and we love you, Doc,” says Chief Ruszkowski. ”This is PN 178 signing off for the last time. It has been a good ride, take care and God bless you all,” says Milliken.

Officer Milliken and his family did not want to appear on camera, nor did they want us to show their home, which of course we respected.

However, they did provide a statement:

“The amount of gratitude and love our family and father feels is immeasurable. Our father served his community for over 50 years as a beat cop because of his innate desire to serve and protect. The outpouring of support, love, and prayers from the City of South Bend has filled his, and our hearts and souls. We are endlessly impressed by the patronage, and it has made this terribly difficult time with our father and husband beautiful.” – The Milliken Family