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Iowa History Daily: April 9 - Pella Officer Lost in Line of Duty

 Iowa History Daily: On April 9, 1980, Pella Patrolman John Van Haaftan lost his life in the line of duty. Shot during an undercover investigation, Van Haaftan volunteered for the assignment which left Marion County in mourning.

Born in Oskaloosa, Van Haaftan attended Pella Christian Grade School before graduating from Pella Community High School. After first working for the Otley Coop and farming north of Pella, Van Haaften started with the Pella Police Department in 1978. Van Haaften graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in March of 1979.

Sent undercover in a cooperative agreement with the Knoxville Police Department on the fateful April day, Van Haaftan suffered a gunshot wound in a drug purchase gone bad. Two brothers, both of Knoxville, ended up serving time for the sale and subsequent manslaughter. 

On April 12, an estimated crowd of over 800 gathered to recognize the sacrifice of Officer Van Haaftan. Van Haaftan left behind his wife and two daughters under the age of five. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar #IowaHistoryDaily


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