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Officer John Hetland died as a hero. Hetland served as a Police Officer for the Racine Police Department. On June 17, 2019, Hetland was shot to death by Dalquavis Ward during an armed robbery at Teezers Bar, 1936 Lathrop Ave.

Hetland died attempting to stop a crime. He gave the ultimate sacrifice by protecting the bartender from the armed gunman. It resulted in a tragedy. While off duty, Hetland’s actions testify to what it means to be a hero.

Racine’s Very Own

Hetland spent 24 years dedicated to the city of Racine. As a leader among those in law enforcement, Officer Hetland was the Vice-President of the Racine Police Association and a proud member of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. He dedicated his life to the city where he was born and raised.

Hetland was a proud graduate of Washington Park High School in 1988 where he was a star player on the men’s baseball team. On Jan. 13, 2022, the 2021-2022 men’s baseball team at Park High School joined efforts with the Racine Police Department to retire Hetland’s high school jersey. In addition, they raised funds to benefit the John Hetland Memorial Scholarship. The Park High School Booster Club was also involved.

Park High School men’s baseball team poses for a photo with John Hetland’s retired jersey Credit: Washington Park High School

Panthers Raise Funds

To raise money for the John Hetland Memorial Scholarship, the school sold baseball hats. These one-of-a-kind caps had Officer Hetland’s badge number (1928) on the side, and his retired jersey number 10 embossed on the other side. This special tribute to Hetland will go on to impact students in the county through his memorial scholarship.

Park High School’s Athletic Director stated that members of the Racine Police Department and friends of Officer Hetland attended the ceremony where they received the donation and were able to watch the presentation of the retired jersey. The jersey will be hung in the Park High School Fieldhouse foyer.

The Memorial Scholarship

The John Hetland Memorial Scholarship is a scholarship provided by the Racine Police Association.

In 2021, Hannah C. Curtin, who was a senior at Union Grove High School was awarded the memorial scholarship. Additionally, an athletic scholarship in Hetland’s honor was awarded to Elizabeth P. Hanstedt, who was a senior at Racine Horlick High School.

Individuals in Racine County applying for scholarships must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above at the end of the 1st semester.
  2. Must be graduating at the end of the school year.
  3. Must be accepted to and enrolled in a two- or four-year college at the time the scholarship is awarded.

In addition to the funds that Park High School’s baseball team and booster club raised, ongoing donations are still being collected. Direct donations to the Racine Police Association. If writing a check, write “John Hetland Memorial Fund” in the memo section. All donations can be mailed to the Racine Police Association, 730 Center St., Racine, WI 53403 c/o JH#1928.

Paying it Forward

If you are unable to donate, there are other ways to give. Consider paying it forward in Hetland’s honor. A Facebook page called “Our Hero – Paying It Forward for John Hetland” was made shortly after his death. Community members are encouraged to pay it forward or share how others have shown kindness in their lives.

Anyone and everyone are welcome to join and continue the officer’s legacy.

Local News

The Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens – your source for local news that serves our diverse communities. Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with local news. Have a story worth sharing? Contact Emma Widmar by emailing