SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (KCAU) – After five days in the hospital, a South Sioux City officer shot in the line of duty gets to go home and to a hero’s welcome.
Officer Brian Van Berkum of the South Sioux City Police Department was shot twice while trying to apprehend a suspect on Saturday. On Thursday, his send-off began at MercyOne Siouxland where he spent the week recuperating.
MercyOne nurses honored the officer with a “walk of respect”. It’s a send-off usually reserved for another type of hero, organ donors. The MercyOne staff told KCAU 9 it’s a way of showing respect.
“We decided to put together a walk of respect, but do so in a similar fashion, so you’ll see nurses, doctors and everyone in between,” said Jenna Rehnstrom with MercyOne.
It felt like the entire community came out to show their support for Officer Van Berkum and give him a hero’s welcome home.
Officer Brian Van Berkum’s first stop on the way home was South Sioux City City Hall.
“I’m very prideful of South Sioux City and I’m just very of Sioux City and the surrounding community as a whole just the outpouring of love from those communities and the respect,” said Rob Koch, the mayor of South Sioux City.
After that, Officer Van Berkum was escorted by South Sioux High school and Middle school where he also served as a coach.
“He is a really good guy like he interacts with every person and he gives comments he is just a really good guy,” said Ithzell Aceves, a student at South Sioux City High School.
“Everybody heard the news on Saturday and everybody was just shocked because Van Berkum has been a pillar of our community I think the outpouring of support is a direct reflection of that commitment that he has shown,” said Ashley O’Dell the principle of South Sioux City High School.
South Sioux City Police Lieutenant Chris Chernock drove Van Berkum along the procession route.
“This is the best place to be from,” said Chernock.
“He is doing really well he is walking pretty well I mean it’s just tough you can see he is drawn a little bit I’m sure there is pain and he has a ways to go,” said Cheif Ed Mahon with South Sioux Police Department,
The police say “Shorty”, as they call him, felt that love.
“I kept looking over at him and wondering why he wasn’t crying and he just kept smiling and waving it was really something else when we went by the gathering of the school kids,” said Chernock.
The procession included officers from Dixon County, Dakota County, Sioux Falls, North Sioux City, Woodbury County and more all in support of Officer Van Berkum.