After decades on the police force, a retired Lake County Sheriff’s Department officer died from coronavirus at the age of 69, his family said.
Dale Bock, of Koontz Lake, Indiana, died early Friday morning after he was hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19.
Bock served the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years and was a lieutenant, K-9 trainer and handler and SWAT team sniper before retiring in 2005. He also worked with the North Liberty Police Department for 10 years.
“He served for 30 years out here as an officer,” said Scott Bock, his son. “He worked out in Gary and he has been in shootouts and all kinds of dangerous situations and each time he walked away. And it’s this virus that takes him out.”
Scott said his dad began experiencing flu-like symptoms before being hospitalized on April 9. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 after being admitted to the hospital.
Scott said the virus had a domino-effect on his dad’s health, which caused major health complications. A blood clot had formed and traveled to his brain and he was also put on dialysis.
“He ended up beating the virus but he ended up dying from complications caused by the virus,” Scott said.
Because of the lack of oxygen in Dale’s blood, he experienced loss of balance and was unable to talk once his health took a turn for the worse, his son said. He was also sedated to ease the strain on his lungs.
Scott was able to have one final phone call with his dad on April 12 at the hospital but was barred from physically visiting.
“He was an active person, he was a deer hunter and fisherman,” Scott said. “He doesn’t smoke and he exercised three or four times a week. He was healthy. And for it to take him completely out like that, it’s so messed up.”
Scott, commander of the patrol division for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, said he followed in his father’s footsteps to join law enforcement.
“My dad liked to tell stories about when he was on the road as a cop,” Bock said. “He was boisterous and loud. He was a lot of fun to be around. People wanted to be around him and talk to him.”
Dale, who was born and raised in Griffith, started his police career in July 1975 with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, said Tom Bock, Dale's brother.
He also took pride in being one of the first members of the Lake County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit team and worked as a police dog handler and trainer for decades, Scott said. He particularly enjoyed patrolling with his police dog, Ammo, a 102-pound, black giant schnauzer.
Scott said his dad received awards throughout his career, including the National Sheriff's Association Medal of Valor, after he and a fellow officer responded to an incident on June 14, 1984. An Indiana State Police trooper was struck by a vehicle on Interstate 94 while at the scene of a hazardous materials spill. The officers performed lifesaving measures on the trooper and apprehended the driver.
Dale was also named the "Officer of the Year" in 1981 by the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
Dale also often worked alongside his brother, who served as deputy commander in charge of the detective bureau and internal affairs at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for 23 years.
“We rode together back when I first started at the department,” Tom said. “He taught me how to survive on the streets. He has trained a lot of young officers.”
Tom described his brother as an outgoing man who loved his job. He and Scott said young officers would often seek out to work under Dale's leadership.
“I know I try to be like him and I know a lot of officers have tried to follow his example for leadership,” Scott said. "I have heard officers still tell stories about him to the rookies. He was that legendary."
While the pandemic prevents the family from hosting services, Scott hopes to hold a celebration of life on what would have been his father’s 70th birthday on July 24, if circumstances allow.
Following cremation, Scott said he will fulfill his dad’s wish to have his ashes scattered at his favorite deer hunting spot at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area in LaPorte County.
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