Senior staff writer
Each day that Southport Police Capt. Kyle Vaughn is on duty, he is reminded of the late Lt. Aaron Allan, who was killed in the line of duty July 27.
Vaughn is Allan’s successor on the Southport Police Department. He drives the same police car that Allan drove, so there are daily reminders of the municipality’s most revered officer. He uses the same clipboards, keeps two of Allan’s chewing tobacco cans, and there is a teddy bear strapped in the back seat.
“The patrol car is the only thing I have left of him that I take to heart,” Vaughn said. “I drive around knowing that he is with me everywhere I go. I know he has my back wherever I go.
“He was a tough guy, but when we were on patrol together he would stop by homes and give teddy bears to the kids inside. He was old-school but he was a giant teddy bear. He was very straight-forward, but he always tried to help people by taking that extra step.”
He considers it an honor to be Allan’s successor as a full-time paid officer.
Southport has 40 reserve officers, which enables the small city to be patrolled 24/7.
Vaughn’s goal is to “serve and protect but always to go above and beyond for the community. Making sure community is No 1 is the only reason to become a policeman. It’s not about power and authority; it’s all about protecting your community.”
Kyle, 26, is a third-generation police officer. His grandfather, the late Thomas Vaughn Sr., served with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. His father, Thomas Vaughn Jr., is Southport’s chief.
“My father and I police the same way, but I’m a millennial so I mix old-school policing with some new ways of thinking; just trying to mold the department into a different style and making sure that the youth of the community know why we are here.”
He contends that new technology, including social media, is the key to reaching the young generation.
Sgt. Vaughn was hired as a reserve officer five years ago by former Southport Chief Randy Ellison. He was trained in evidence technology, firearms training and leadership. He serves the department as Explorer program adviser and justice mascot, teachers at the Police Academy and heads the events division.
He was among the first law enforcement class at Central Nine Career Academy as a Southport High School graduate in 2011. He wrestled and played football at Southport, setting a record of five interceptions in one season.
The process that led to the hiring of Allan as the department’s only paid officer except for the chief and code enforcement officer began in October 2016. Allan earned the second-highest ranking after interviews among a five-member committee; Capt. Vaughn was No. 3. When the top qualified candidate took another job, Allen moved into the paid position Jan. 1.
After Allan’s death, the committee, chaired by the mayor with a City Council member, Board of Works member and two police officers, agreed to have Vaughn succeed him. The board serves as a police merit board to oversee departmental disciplinary action.
“He’s trained and is a good officer,” Chief Vaughn said of his son’s professionalism. “As a dad I’m proud of the steps he has taken and the divisions he’s led.
“When a run comes and there’s a call, ‘Officer needs assistance,’ that’s hard to hear after the shooting of Lt. Allen. You are thinking about the negative, but you just have to take a deep breath.”