GARY— As he made his final 10-42 sign-off radio call, former Gary Officer Jeston Walker looked out the window of his squad car, tears welling in his eyes.
On Feb. 28, Walker, 37, prepared to turn off his police radio for the final time after more than seven years as an officer for the Gary Police Department. Walker began his career with the Gary Police Department in August 2011 and has held the positions of patrolman, SWAT operator, field training officer and honor guard.
“We would like to extend the deepest gratitude for the time he has dedicated to the citizens of Gary as well as his brotherhood with the Gary Police Department,” the dispatcher said. “We wish you the best in all your future endeavors; 1560, we'll miss you.”
Then came the flood of goodbyes from his fellow officers over the radio.
“Respect all, fear none.”
“Wish you luck, my brother.”
“It's been an honor working with you.”
“Thank you, all my brothers and sisters,” Walker said. “I appreciate all the times I spent with y'all. Continue to stay safe, 10-42.”
He then wiped his face and turned off the radio.
“It was emotional, I was going to cut the recording as I started tearing up but I couldn't find the stop button in time,” Walker said. “That much love was overwhelming.”
Walker said he was recording the radio sign-off for his own remembrances but his wife urged him to post the video on Facebook to show a side of police work that often goes unseen. So far, the video has gotten 52,000 views and has been shared more than 500 times.
“Then the post went through the roof,” Walker said. “Often you don't look at that aspect of the job; whose lives you've touched. It was a blessing to 10-42 and I'm still here, living on this Earth. To get a sign-off like that, often that officer doesn't get to walk away with their life. But I'm still living and I'm thankful.”
Walker grew up in Gary and never thought he'd be behind the wheel of a squad car in his youth.
“I grew up in the worst projects,” Walker said. “I've seen a lot of violence in this city. At first, I never thought I'd be one of the police."
Walker said after he worked at Westville Correctional Facility, he wanted to be an officer in his hometown and quickly fell in love with police work.
During his time as a Gary officer, he always made a point to be someone to look up to for neighborhood kids.
“I made it my obligation — We get calls all of the time where a parent can't control their teens and they call the police to get them in line,” Walker said. “But I share my experiences with them and tell them what I overcame to be who I am today. They relate to me and I can relate to them, too.”
Walker's next chapter will be starting a business with his family, which includes his five daughters. However, he said he will always be a part of the Gary Police Department in his heart.
“The main thing I am going to miss is the people,” he said. “I won't miss all of the things I've seen, but I'll miss my brothers and sisters. We're more than coworkers or friends, we are family."