Fellow officers who were friends with fallen KCKPD Capt. Robert David Melton described him as “commanding” and “jovial” Wednesday, just one day after he was killed by a gunman.
"It's hard to describe. It's just shock,” said Joe Henre, a retired KCKPD officer who knew Melton for decades.
"He and I had a friendship that you think is gonna last forever … It's just hard to describe, the feeling of loss when you have a friend that you're not gonna see anymore,” he said.
The 32-year veteran left the force in 2012 and just recently bought blue light bulbs to light up his front porch to honor all the fallen officers around the country: Dallas, Baton Rouge and now his old friend, Capt. Dave.
Hearing word that Melton was shot and killed was even more shocking considering Henre played in the honor guard with him at Detective Brad Lancaster’s funeral just weeks ago.
"He was one of those guys that uh, it was in his heart. He was here to help people ... And I think he achieved that,” said Henre.
Amber Thomas has been with KCKPD for 12 years. She had lunch with Melton on Tuesday afternoon shortly before he was killed.
"Wasn't a bad word spoken of him. He was always there to back up officers. Would go out on any of the calls. He's just that type of guy,” said Thomas.
The officer described her captain as “amazing” while wiping away tears.
"Big guy, but very much you could go up and hug him and talk to him,” she said.
Thomas also said losing Melton leaves a “huge hole.”
Both friends say that their captain had a great sense of humor but will be remembered most for his unselfish desire to help anyone.
"He was in his car and out the door. He was always there for the guys,” said Thomas.
Former KCK police chief remembers Melton
Rick Armstrong, president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission and former KCK police chief, said, "I remember when we hired Robert and personally enjoyed him. He was a good officer, but he was a great sergeant."
He wants people in the community to know, "The men and women who go out each night, they go out with the best intentions of keeping everybody safe and recognize that mistakes are made and at times there are controversial actions taken that I think are potentially alarming and need investigation. But if we look at the millions of police contacts per year and infrequency of police-involved shootings, we’ve had a conversation that very disproportionately pins the trouble in America on law enforcement side."
That characterization is one he believes is very unfair to the officers trying to protect and serve this community and heal.
"They’re feeling a lot of pain and frustration for the loss, but I have not seen any lack of resolve to come back to work and do the right thing and try to work hard to keep our city safe," Armstrong said.
Melton will be laid to rest Saturday
Funeral arrangements for Captain Dave Melton have been set. On Friday, visitation will be held at the Jack Reardon Civic Center, located at 520 Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, from 4-7 p.m. Melton will be laid to rest on July 23. The funeral will be held at Children's Mercy Park at 9 a.m. Parking will be available at the Speedway.
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