• Officer shopped for community kids before line of duty death

    By: Ann Smajstrla, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    CHARLESTOWN, Ind. - A fallen police officer spent his final hours shopping for Christmas gifts for kids before his death in the line of duty.

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    Sgt. Ben Bertram's co-workers said he never missed the Christmas With a Cop event in his nine years at the Charlestown Police Department. The last picture taken of Bertram on Wednesday night shows him smiling next to a grocery cart, buying Christmas gifts with local first-graders.

    "I think he liked the camaraderie of just being with the department and seeing the smile on those kids' faces," Charlestown Officer Adam Clark told WLKY.

    Hours later, Bertram died in a crash when he lost control of his patrol vehicle during a high-speed chase with a stolen car in nearby Scott County. The suspect was arrested and is facing criminal charges.

    The 33-year-old was a K-9 officer and often brought his four-legged partner, Franco, to schools and community events. His previous partner, KuBo, was retired from the department and living with Bertram.

    Those who knew Bertram told local media he loved being active in the community.

    "He brightened the room as soon as he came in," Clark said. He recalled Bertram's demeanor Wednesday at Christmas With a Cop: "He was interacting with everybody, making jokes, making people laugh. That is what I'll remember, those are my best memories."

    Bertram's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.

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