Law enforcement agencies from across the region gathered Wednesday to pay their respects to a Douglas County Sheriff's lieutenant killed in a bicycle accident.
Lieutenant Dave Dillon died Saturday, but hundreds gathered Wednesday morning to remember his life -- a life devoted to serving the people of Douglas County for more than a quarter of a century.
"Over the years of watching him grow, you could just see the maturity, the passion," Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern said. "He loved his job."
Dillon devoted 26 years of his life to the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, but his life was cut tragically short Saturday when he was struck by a car while riding his bike on county road 442 west of Eudora.
"It's tragic that his life was cut short," Dillon's brother Jeffrey said. "It's tragic for all of us, but if we could all continue to live our lives like Dave, I think the world would be a better place."
Hundreds turned out to pay their respects for Dillon, whose career in law enforcement began in 1982 when he was just 18 years old.
"It's important for me to say there's nobody that's ever going to fill Dave's shoes," Undersheriff Kenney Massey said. "There's a void that's always going to be there."
That void will be felt the most at the Douglas County Jail. Dillon who started as a corrections officer worked his way up the ranks to operations lieutenant. He played a key role in the opening of the new jail in 1999, but also spent a number of years serving as a D.A.R.E. officer to thousands of Lawrence school children.
"It's tough," McGovern said. "Everybody got to work with him, some were supervised by him, other guys were on the road with him.... It's left a big void in us. He meant a lot to everybody."
Just how much he meant could be seen by Wednesday's turnout. Officers from departments all across the region participated in a processional across town. Others offered to fill in, helping with day-to-day operations so all Douglas County Sheriff's Department employees could attend the funeral.
"Dave will be proud, i think," Massey said of the law enforcement funeral with full honors, complete with bagpipes, Taps and a 21-gun salute. The sheriff said he wouldn't have had it any other way.
"When I met with his mom, she said this job, this department was his life, and she asked if he could be remembered through a service that he would be proud of," McGovern said. "They asked for full honors, and it's expected for what he gave this place, this community. It was all about Dave, giving back to the people that he lived with."