Southport, IN – Southport Police Officer Richard “Rich” Parnell passed away on Thursday following a yearlong battle with cancer.
Officer Parnell, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, died at the Indianapolis Hospital at approximately 11 a.m. “while surrounded by his friends, family, and fellow police officers,” Southport Police Chief Thomas Vaughn said in a press release.
According to Chief Vaughn, Officer Parnell had a “lengthy law enforcement career” prior to joining the Southport Police Department in 2015.
“Rich served the City of Southport Police Department with honor, integrity, and distinction,” the chief said.
He was a member of the agency’s honor guard, and also worked as a field training officer.
“Rich had a big heart,” Chief Vaughn told WISH. “Rich cared and did whatever he could for anybody."
Officer Parnell was an active supporter of many charity groups, and often helped to raise money for various causes, according to a fundraising page established to help Officer Parnell throughout his cancer battle.
The department was truly Officer Parnell’s family – perhaps even more so than for many officers.
"His parents both passed away around the same time,” Chief Vaughn told WISH. “He was the only son, the only kid.”
But even without the backing of a traditional family, Officer Parnell was never without the support of his brothers and sisters in blue.
“It [the cancer] was just everywhere,” the chief explained. “So, for the last year, every Friday, I would take him to chemo and his appointments.”
“He will be greatly missed,” the agency said in a tweet on Thursday. “We love you, Rich.”
Officer Parnell will be laid to rest on Monday, according to his department.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Southport Police Officer Richard “Rich” Parnell, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.