Community turns out to honor Minkevitch

Police officers ride motorcycles north on Main Street in Newton on Friday afternoon as part of the last patrol for Newton Police Department Sgt. Levi Minkevitch, who was killed in an ATV accident while off duty. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now

NEWTON— Harvey County Communications Shift Supervisor Monica Leonard’s voice choked up a little when giving Sgt. Levi Minkevitch’s last call on the police scanner on Friday.

“Newton 39,” she said. “Newton 39. (Long pause.) Newton 39 Sgt. Levi Minkevitch. Attention all units in listening station. Newton P.D. Sgt. Levi Minkevitch was out of service for the final time. Sgt. Minkevitch served the citizens of Newton and Harvey County for eight years as a police officer and member of the Harvey County Emergency Response Team. Levi was a tremendous officer and a friend to everyone he met. He had a large presence and a smile that lit up a room. He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, brother. We have the watch from here. Newton concluding 12:05.”

A little while later, people lining the streets of Newton stopped talking to each other and turned their attentions to a motorcade during Minkevitch’s last patrol as it wound through Newton, led by a contingent of men on motorcycles.

Minkevitch, 30, was killed during an off-duty ATV accident near Peabody about two weeks ago.

People watched solemnly as a variety of law enforcement vehicles from Harvey County and other Kansas communities drove past, some with hands on their hearts, others holding American flags while at least one man held a large black flag with a horizontal blue strip on it. Even retired Newton/Fire EMS Chief Scott Metzler was on a sidewalk with members of his family.

An Evergy team flew two American flags high above Main Street near the Old Mill, while the Newton Fire/EMS Department flew such a flag from its aerial fire truck at Main and Broadway.

One man attending, Trent Wieberg, who didn’t know the fallen officer, had his reasons for going. He said he lives in the community and came out to show his support.

Another person, a mom with at least a couple of kids there, said she met Minkevitch a few times, as his brother was a friend of her brother-in-law’s. She said her son said he wanted to be a police officer, just like Minkevitch.

“Thank you, Newton, for the powerful outpouring of love and support today as we paid tribute to Sgt. Levi Minkevitch,” was written on the Newton Police Department Facebook page. “It means so much. We love our community, and we love you, Mink. RIP.”

A memorial account is set up for Minkevitch’s family at Intrust Bank. Donations can be sent to Sgt. Levi Minkevitch Memorial Fund, Intrust Bank, 128 E. Broadway, Newton, Kan., 67114. Donations can be mailed to that address or directly deposited at any Intrust Bank location. All funds will be used to support the family. The family also welcomes donations to Safehope in Newton in Levi’s name.