CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) - In honor of Police Memorial Week, the Champaign community came together on Friday to pay tribute to officers killed in the line of duty.

The Champaign Police Memorial Ceremony was held in West Side Park to honor law enforcement officers from around the world who have died in the line of duty. However, this specific ceremony honored the lives of Officer Thomas Dodsworth, Officer Robert Tatman and Officer Chris Oberheim.

"We pay tribute to these exemplary men who's lives were taken only because they chose to serve," said Matthew Henson, interim chief of police for the Champaign Police Department.

Officer Thomas Dodsowoth was shot and killed on July 6, 1913, while he was attempting to arrest two suspects.

Officer Robert Tatman was shot and killed on November 25, 1967. Police reported Officer Tatman raideoed headquarters that he had stopped a car on Church Street near Mattis Avenue. In the early morning, someone got on the officer's radio and notified that an officer, Officer Tatman, had been shot. No one has been arrested.

Officer Chris Oberheim was killed on May 19, 2021, when he and Champaign Police Officer Jeffrey Creel responded to a domestic dispute. Champaign police reported upon arrival, officers made contact with a male suspect sitting in a vehicle in front of the dispatched address. The male ignored orders from both officers, began to exit the vehicle and initiated a struggle with officers. The male pulled out a handgun and started firing numerous rounds at both officers. Both Oberheim and Creel were shot. Officer Oberheim was killed.

Members from the Champaign Police Department and the community gathered to remember the lives of the three men who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting their community.

"Chris, along with Officer Tatman and Officer Dodsworth, will never be forgotten," said Interim Chief Matthew Henson.

Friday's ceremony also honored the heroic actions of Officer Oberheim and Officer Creel on May 19. Officer Creel and the family of Officer Oberheim were awarded with the Champaign Police Department's Medal of Valor and Purple Heart Award.

"Under deadly circumstances, they stood their ground for the safety of others today and every day to follow," Henson shared.

Champaign police said Officer Creel displayed true heroic actions on May 19. After the shooting, police said Officer Creel began to care for Oberheim.

After Officer Creel received his award, he walked straight to Amber Oberheim, the wife of Officer Chris Oberheim, and gave her a hug. Amber told WAND News that hug was something special.

"When I hug Jeff Creel, I hug my hero," she said. "He's such a humble man, but has has all of our love and respect from here until eternity."

West Side Park was filled with community members and law enforcement from all over the area. Amber Oberheim said while today was about paying respects to the three men who were killed in the line of duty, it was also about honoring the brave men and women who continue to serve.

"It's about recognizing the sacrifice all of our officers continue to make on a daily basis," Oberheim said. "It's about honoring them. It's about respecting them. It's about letting our community embrace them and let them know they are loved and vitally needed."

Both Amber and Henson said they were thankful for the people who came to West Side Park for Friday's ceremony.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.