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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
July 16, 2019

5/4/2007 2:12:00 PM
Guest column
Laying down lives for strangers is what cops are all about
For the Daily News

The Bible tells us in John 15:13 that Â""greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends." While there is, as far as I'm concerned, no arguing that fact, I can't help but think of one question: What about a man who lays down his life for total strangers?

You see, that has happened at least 17,912 times in our nation's history. In fact it happened 145 times last year alone. The numbers cited reflect police officers killed in the line of duty in the United States. One of those 17,912 names etched in stone at the National Law Enforcement Memorial is Willam Â"JackÂ" Fancil.

Jack Fancil was a young man of 25 on June 1, 1970. For $475 per month he, at his young age, had taken on the duties of chief of police in Oblong. With a wife and two young sons, Fancil was still at the beginning of what should have been a very long, proud career. He had worked as a deputy sheriff before taking the Oblong chief position in July, 1969. By all accounts he was very well-respected by his fellow officers as well as the citizenry he served.

On that night, Fancil had just returned from Robinson, where he had been on business at the Crawford County Sheriff's Department. Two young men who were riding along with him. I'm speculating that Chief Fancil had seen something in those young men and wanted to introduce them to the noble profession of law enforcement.

On the west edge of Oblong, where the Oblong bus barn now stands, was Big John's grocery store. With the ever-alert senses that law enforcement requires, Fancil's suspicions spoke to him. He turned into the grocery store parking lot and around to the soda-bottle depository area. There he surprised three burglars. Being the cowards that they were, stealing someone else's living in the dark of night, they shot the chief. He was able to return fire and injure two of the thieves. Unfortunately for Fancil, his family, and the town of Oblong, he was dead on arrival at the hospital.

In researching this story I ran across a quote from the doctor who treated the man who killed Chief Fancil. The assailant asked the doctor if he was going to die, to which the doctor replied, "Well, not from this injury." Infer what you want from that statement, but I hear a doctor who was feeling the effects of Fancil's death.

I started to research the fate of the three men convicted in this case. I then hit the "back" button on the computer. I don't really care about those men. This is about Chief Jack Fancil, a young man who was raising a young family. He was working odd hours, weekends, holidays, all to protect the citizens of Oblong from people like the ones he ran across June 1, 1970.

The next time you are in Oblong and see the bench in front of City Hall that bears his name, or maybe pass his gravesite at the Oblong Cemetery, stop and think. This was a man who died for others, many of them strangers. Think of a young widow and two fatherless children. Are you seeing a different picture from that Â"no-good donut-eaterÂ" who stopped you for speeding last week?

May 13-19, 2007 is National Police Week. May 15 is National Peace Officers Memorial Day. This is a date that has been set aside by Congress to recognize police, especially those who have paid the ultimate price for all of us. We don't ask for anything special. We only ask for one thing. Please see us as those who will answer your call for service and be willing to pay the same price as Chief Fancil did. We may not even know you. We may know you and have had some differences in the past. We may be good friends. It doesn't matter; we will still answer the call.

So on May 15, please lower your flag to half-staff, as is authorized by federal decree. Oh, and if you happen to see a member of Chief Fancil's family, tell them "thank you" for the job that Jack did.

Bryan Danks, public information officer for the Robinson Police Department, contributes guest columns to the Daily News on law-enforcement issues.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2007
Article comment by: Craig Hamel

Mr.Danks what ever happend to the scum bags that killed Chief Fancil? Do you have any info? I tried to do some research but couldn't find much. Clarence Wilson won some kind of appeal in Federal Court, thats all I could find.

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