Mt. Pleasant police chief signs off on Pore campaign
The early 20th-century slaying of late Mt. Pleasant Borough Police Chief Denver Braden Pore is a tragedy time cannot diminish, said Stephen Ober, who has led the department for more than a decade.
Action is long overdue to more fittingly honor the memory of Pore, who is purported to be the borough's only officer ever killed in the line of duty, he added.
“It was a true tragedy,” Ober said.
On April 5, 1906, Pore was shot by Andrew Lindsay Jr. as Pore attempted to arrest the 22-year-old man who was intoxicated and firing a pistol about town.
Two days later, Pore — a husband and father of two — died of his wounds. He was 25.
Lindsay fled town and was never apprehended for his crime.
“(Chief Pore) was a member of the department I have served with for so long. (Honoring him) is something that should have happened long ago,” Ober said.
Ober's admitted need for greater recognition of Pore recently prompted him to officially endorse a campaign dedicated to weaving the late officer's memory into America's national fabric.
Father, son seek to honor slain officer on national scale
More than a year ago, the father-son team of Erich “Rick” Geppert and Erich “Rocky” Geppert first learned of Pore's story.
Rocky Geppert, 20, of Oakmont is an auxiliary police officer with the municipality's police department. Rick Geppert works as a full-time Oakmont policeman.
They both serve as volunteer case investigators for the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial of Allegheny County.
The nonprofit organization pays tribute to law enforcement officers from Allegheny County who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as officers who grew up in Allegheny County but lost their lives elsewhere, Rocky Geppert said.
Occasionally, the Gepperts' focus and efforts shift to fallen, out-of-county officers such as Pore, whose death caught their attention more than a year ago as they were conducting research on a genealogy website.
“One thing that stuck out to us was that the person who killed Chief Pore was never brought to justice,” Rocky Geppert said.
Soon after, the Gepperts turned over the information they gathered about Pore to the Officer Down Memorial Page. A brief summary of Pore's story was added to the website.
Now, the Gepperts are seeking to have Pore's name added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This year, the names of 16 officers were added to the national memorial. Most of those additions resulted from the work of the Gepperts.
“We want to make sure guys like this are remembered,” Rick Geppert said.
Team makes a local contact
In March, Rocky Geppert contacted Rick Meason, president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society since 2013, after noticing a family tree of Pore's family that Meason was compiling on Ancestry.com.
Meason — who first learned of Pore's story in late 2013 — is currently working with borough Manager Jeff Landy, borough Councilwoman Cindy Stevenson, and borough Councilman Larry Tate to form a committee to design a local memorial to Pore and devise a fundraising strategy.
Additional efforts have cropped up, as an anonymous donor to the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Association recently enabled the placement of a stone in memory of Pore near the main entrance of the burial ground, where he was interred following his death.
As Meason and the others continue their efforts to honor Pore locally, he said he is encouraged by the Gepperts' efforts to do so on a national scale.
“I never would have dreamed there would be a chance for Chief Pore to be honored nationally,” Meason said. “I was not even aware there was a national memorial for fallen police officers until Rocky told me about it.”
Chief's signature is secured
For the Gepperts, one important step in the process of nominating Pore for placement on the national memorial was to secure Ober's signature on the nomination form as the acting police chief of the municipality in which the late officer served.
Ober recently welcomed the Gepperts, along with Meason, to the borough police department headquarters, where he promptly put pen to paper and authored his signature in support of the initiative.
“I'm proud to further this process,” Ober said. “Chief Pore's death and his story make me as emotional today as if it would have happened today. He was one of us.”
In the coming weeks, the Gepperts will mail Pore's nomination forms, along with a photo of him and several newspaper articles detailing his story, to the national memorial committee, Rocky Geppert said.
In January, the committee will meet to determine the 2015 inductees whose names will be added to the memorial during a ceremony in May.
“We will find out in early February if Chief Pore has been approved,” Rocky Geppert said.
Rocky's father said he thinks it's a “slam dunk,” particularly with Ober's official endorsement.
“This was a felonious act on an officer of the law, and the suspect was never apprehended. It's a true injustice,” Rick Geppert said. “I have no doubt Chief Pore will be approved ... it just will take some time.”
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.