Remembering a fallen brother
During the month of May, law enforcement dedicates this time to local and national law enforcement memorials.
Remembering our fallen brothers and sisters in law enforcement is a somber moment.
Although many of us current troopers, deputies, or officers may have never met these fallen heroes, their legacy lives within the department.
This week I wish to discuss the only Trooper from the Niles Post to have fallen in the line of duty: Trooper Steven B. DeVries (April 28, 1940 – Oct. 12, 1972).
DeVries was shot and killed by a bank robber near Niles, Michigan.
At 8:40 a.m., the Niles Post received a bank alarm in the City of Niles. The information was immediately given to DeVries, who was already on patrol.
A short time later, DeVries radioed the post requesting further information. None was available. Other officers responding to the robbery observed Trooper DeVries on bypass US-12. He had stopped a vehicle containing one subject and was sitting in the patrol car talking on the radio. A witness later appeared and stated that he had seen DeVries and the subject standing between their respective cars when, suddenly, the officer fell backward with his arm across his chest. The witness immediately contacted other troopers in the area and aid was rushed to the fallen officer. An ambulance transported DeVries to a local hospital within minutes. The medical staff worked feverishly, but unsuccessfully, to save the officer’s life.
DeVries was pronounced dead at 9:10 a.m., one-half hour after he had been informed of the robbery.
Investigating officers found that DeVries had written the subject’s name and address on a note pad. The suspect was later apprehended, admitted to both the bank robbery and murder, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Southern Michigan Prison at Jackson.
On July 4, 1987, DeVries’ killer escaped from that institution. On Dec. 3, 1987, he was killed in a gun battle with sheriff deputies in Mississippi, while fleeing from another bank robbery.
DeVries was the 28th MSP officer to die in the line of duty.
The Trooper Steven B. Devries Memorial Highway Dedication ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday May 19, 2016, on the grounds of Summit Church. Summit Church is located at the northwest corner of US-12 and West River Road, 1700 W. River Road in Niles. In event of inclement weather the dedication ceremony will move inside the church.
The portion of highway US-12 in Berrien County beginning at the intersection of US-12 and highway M-60 and continuing west to the intersection of highway US-12 and highway US-31 shall be known as the “Tpr. Steven B. Devries Memorial Highway.”
Rob Herbstreith is a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police Niles post. Questions or comments can be emailed to TrooperRob53@yahoo.com