RICHLAND, Mich. — Joe Sikkema knew Sgt. Collin Rose years ago. His son went to school with him at Gull Lake. Sikkema was among the dozens of people standing in the cold at Richland Square, attending a tree-planting ceremony in honor of Collin. He said the 29-year-old was a “great” kid but this was hard.
“My son’s an officer,” said Sikkema during an interview at Richland Square. “[This] hits close to home.”
The K-9 officer was shot and killed in late November while on duty at Wayne State University. His funeral was attended by thousands at Ford Field in Detroit last week. The next day, law enforcement officials from all over Kalamazoo County paid their respects during a memorial service in Augusta. Thursday, the Richland Police Department honored him with a Kousa dogwood tree.
“We have regular native dogwoods,” said Richland Police Chief Jeff Mattioli. “This is not a native. This is a Kousa and there’s literally nothing else like it here just like Sgt. Rose.”
Chief Mattioli said he knew Collin when he was just an intern at the station years ago. Collin became interested in law enforcement while he was teenager and Mattioli took him under his wing. Collin later pursued it as a career at Ferris State University and then at Wayne State, where he was completing his master's degree.
“He had a rocket tied to him,” said Chief Mattioli. “He was motivated and he was fun. He was funny, [a] hard worker and just the type of guy that everybody wanted to be around.”
Chief Mattioli also described him as “one of a kind" to the crowd. He told the Rose family and his fiancé that he won’t be forgotten and that whomever killed him will be brought to justice. The Detroit police have offered a $15,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
“I have absolute faith in the criminal justice system as far as our officers are concerned,” said Chief Mattioli. “The investigators, they’re working diligently to catch this piece of garbage.”
He told the family not to lose hope. He passed out special blue ribbons to them and asked them to put it on the tree. Everyone else did the same afterwards, some even leaving flowers.
“It was one the first times I’ve seen Mrs. Rose smile in a long time,” said Chief Mattioli. “I hope this was a beautiful moment for them.”
The ribbons will stay on the tree until grows into full bloom, he said. Afterwards, they’ll be given to the family and the police will patrol it, and protect it, like it’s one of their own. Chief Mattioli, like many others at the ceremony, hope people will remember Collin when they see it.
“There’s a lot of events that happen up here throughout the community,” said Sikkema. “A lot of people walk through the park and it’ll be a great thing to have in memory.”