VALPARAISO -- One of Lorraine Kirkley's favorite
activities before she was murdered in July was to ride
bicycles with her friends in the Calumet Crank Club.
So when it came time for her
friends to honor the Valparaiso woman's memory, they
knew she would not want a plaque placed somewhere that
would gather dust.
They instead decided to donate
two bicycles to the Porter County Sheriff's Department
bicycle patrol unit.
Crank Club President Hal Rhea
said Kirkley's friends wanted to do something related to
bicycles and also wanted to thank the Sheriff's
Department for putting so much effort into solving
Kirkley's murder and searching for her body.
The police investigation led
to the conviction of David Malinski. He was sentenced
last week to 155 years in prison. Police continue their
search for Kirkley's body.
The Crank Club's $1,300
donation was originally going to buy one specially
designed police bicycle. But Leo's Bicycle & Foot Works
in Valparaiso combined with Mongoose bicycles to offer a
discount, enabling the Crank Club to buy two bicycles.
The bicycles are equipped with
sirens, flashing red and blue lights and equipment
With the two new bicycles,
which were donated Tuesday, the department now has four
bicycles for its bicycle patrol unit.
Sheriff David Reynolds said
that with the expansion of the bicycle unit, he will now
have night patrols in addition to the day patrols that
were used last year. The night patrols will focus on
stopping vandalism and thefts from vehicles in problem
areas throughout Porter County.
"They (criminals) are not
going to be looking for a police officer on a bike,"
The day patrols will continue
to be used to build a relationship with children and to
encourage interaction between officers and the public.
"I think the whole program
last year was very successful," Reynolds said.
"We received nothing but
Rhea said he's glad the club
could do something to remember Kirkley.
"She was our president in 1997
and was really admired and was a great member of our
club," Rhea said.
"She was always full of smiles
and encouraging people. ... She was just a joy to be
around and we really do miss her."
The Crank Club makes donations to different
organizations each year. Its annual fund-raiser is the
Lakeshore Century, which on Sept. 10 will feature
bicycle rides of 25, 62 or 100 miles along Lake Michigan
from Porter County to as far away as New Buffalo, Mich.