CHECOTAH, Okla. -- Family members, friends and fellow officers will gather this weekend to celebrate the life of the assistant police chief.
The funeral for Justin Durrett will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Checotah High School event center. He died Monday from injuries he suffered earlier this month during a wreck in Haskell County.
The gloomy weather Tuesday matched the mood at the Checotah police station. Someone left flowers on the front door in memory of Durrett. Inside, officers shared their deep sense of sadness after the tragic passing of their brother in blue, but they still found a way to remember him with a smile.
"Either we're laughing, or we're crying," Police Chief Darren Glover said. "It's a healing process. We always try to think of the good things, and, with Justin, it's easy to think of the good things."
Glover said Durrett kept everyone laughing because he always told jokes and pulled pranks around the office.
"If I could just be half the man he was, I'd be doing something," Glover said. "He's a hero in my book."
Glover rode in the procession Monday evening that brought Durrett's body back to his hometown. He called it incredible to see so many members of law enforcement and others honoring their brother in blue.
"There was one truck. He was pulling a cow trailer," Glover said. "He pulled over on the side of the road, got out of his truck, took his cowboy hat off and put it over his heart on 69 Highway. It was amazing."
Andy Blizzard, the former police chief in Checotah, gave Durrett a job at the department 13 years ago. He said since the wreck earlier this month, support has come from even the most unexpected places.
"We've got a strong little department. We've got a strong community. Everybody's backing everybody on this," Blizzard said. "I had an inmate in the county jail get a message out to me to let me know that they were praying for Justin, while we were going through this."
Flags lowered around town to honor Durrett, and now his fellow officers are planning another tribute at his funeral Saturday. Two days before the wreck, police received the new badges that Durrett had spent so much time designing. He never got to wear his, so now the police will make sure someone else will get that Number 25 badge.
"At the funeral we're going to present his badge to his kids," Glover said, "and that'll be an amazing thing that his kids get to have his badge."
Although his young son and daughter lost their father, they have a lot more men from their dad's department who plan to look after them.
"Every Valentine's Day he would get them flowers," Glover said. "Well now that's our job. Every Valentine's Day they're going to get flowers and balloons, and that's going to be our job. We'll do it."
A fundraiser to benefit Durrett's family will be held March 17 at Rib Crib in Muskogee. People should inform their server that day that they're eating there for the Justin Durrett fundraiser. They can place their ticket in a jar, then 10 percent of their total will go to Durrett's family to help pay for medical and other expenses.
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