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When the Floyd County, Indiana Sheriff’s Department decided they wanted to send the message to children that they can overcome obstacles, they thought no one would be better to deliver that message than Deputy Joel White.

White was seriously injured in last year’s shooting that took the life of Officer Frank Denzinger. Sheriff Darrell Mills asked White to tell his story to the children at “Camp I Can” which Mills started to provide a safe place to have fun and show a more positive side of law enforcement.

White told the middle school campers about how he had always wanted to be a police officer and how his dream came true after he left the military.

“Every officer has something different that they enjoy.... Making arrests was probably my favorite part of the job,” he said.

He also spoke candidly about how he and Officer Denzinger were shot responding to a domestic disturbance call. He called Denzinger’s actions “heroic” and said he was a friend that he wished he had more time to get to know.

He also talked about the 10-month process of recovery before he returned to law enforcement. He now has a fake hip and walks with a limp, but he recently became the first crime scene investigator for the Sheriff’s Department. He said the work was “very interesting” but not nearly as easy as it seems on the television show CSI.

He said the support from the community helped him through the difficult times.

“You can overcome an obstacle,” White told the kids. “Keep strong in your faith and friends and family, and you can get through it.”

White also fielded several questions from the students, and many stayed after to talk to him or ask questions. He said he does not mind answering any questions about the shooting and has spoken at other public events.

When asked if they had heard about the shooting before White spoke, almost all of the children responded that they had.

“I think what he and Officer Denzinger did was great,” said Asa Sipe, 14. “It was good to hear him talk about his experiences and overcoming obstacles.”

Kasey Wheeler, 14, said she has thought about a career in law enforcement and thought White’s speech was inspirational.

“It’s great for him to tell his own story rather than having other people tell it,” she said
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