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VOL. 126 | NO. 95 | Monday, May 16, 2011

Jeremy Park

A Monument to Fallen Officers

JEREMY PARK

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Last week, we discussed the Memphis Police Foundation, which is helping to fund essential equipment and training for the Memphis Police Department, while also serving as the conduit to construct a monument to those MPD officers who have lost their lives protecting our city. This week, let us spotlight that monument: the MPD Fallen Officer Memorial.

The Memphis Police Department has a rich history dating back to 1827, when John J. Balch was appointed town constable and the first police station was constructed. What started with two men working the night watch has grown over the last 184 years into a highly skilled force of more than 2,400 officers and civilians. Dedicated to preserving public safety, our MPD is internationally recognized as the benchmark for using technology to fight crime and has received countless recognition for their efforts. Crime is down 31 percent since 2006 to date and is down 2 percent since last year to date.

Throughout this legacy, one thing remained missing: a monument honoring the families and those officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. According to www.memphispolice.org, that number totals 61. Chris Cosgriff of the Officer Down Memorial Page notes: “When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation.” Anyone with a loved one who is an officer, firefighter, in the military, or any service that places them in harm’s way, knows of the ultimate sacrifice these individuals give each day to protect our great city and nation.

This year, the Memphis Police Foundation and a group of local leaders came together to establish the MPD Fallen Officer Memorial. The monument will be constructed at Oak Court Mall, which graciously donated their outside circular courtyard, along with the wooded area that adjoins. This location is perfect for visibility and family access.

Artist renderings will soon be released, but here are some proposed highlights. Three large eagles will encircle the monument, symbolic of freedom and protection, yet understating one of their teammates (fourth corner) is missing. At the center will be a life-size sculpture of a male and female officer holding the hand of a child. Lyrics of the MPD hymn will be inscribed with the names of the officers who have lost their lives. Children and other family members will be able to create a charcoal rubbing as a keepsake.

There are many opportunities to lend support. Material donations will be needed, as well as trade and artistic talents. For those who would like to financially support, contributions may be sent to the Memphis Police Foundation at 201 Poplar Ave., Room 12-03, Memphis, TN 38103. Please note “MPD Fallen Officer Memorial” in the memo line.

Learn more about the project or get involved by contacting MPD Deputy Chief Joe Scott at joseph.scott@memphistn.gov.

Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com.

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