New fallen officers memorial proposed at Madison County Sheriff’s Office

By ELIZABETH DONALD
Illinois Correspondent

BOARD MEMBERS – The Madison County Fallen Officers’ Memorial Board includes (from left) Sgt. Ben Martin, Det. Jason Thatcher, Sgt. Nick Mooshegian, Det. Sgt. Jared Fravell and Lt. Paul Sarhage. – Labor Tribune photo

Edwardsville, IL – When Officer Tyler Timmins’ name was carved into the fallen officers’ memorial at the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, a grim milestone was reached in more ways than one.

Timmons, a 15-year veteran serving with Pontoon Beach Police after serving in three other departments, was shot and killed while investigating a stolen vehicle and died shortly after sustaining his injuries.

The same year, Brooklyn Police Officer Brian Pierce Jr. was struck and killed by a fleeing vehicle while deploying spike strips on the McKinley Bridge.

Both names were added to the small memorial in front of the sheriff’s department and jail in Edwardsville, Ill., which meant there was no more room on the memorial. The names of all officers who died in the line of duty within Madison County are memorialized there, going back to 1893.

But there are names that were missed over the years, as well as the possibility of future officers killed in the line of duty.

“Hopefully we never add another name, that’s the goal,” said Det. Jason Thatcher, unofficial historian for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and shop steward with the Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association Unit 118.

AN ARTIST’S RENDERING of the proposed fallen officers memorial, though project leaders say the ‘eternal flame’ will not be actual fire and the design of the two officer statutes “standing watch’ has not been decided yet. The proposed memorial will replace the current entry plaza in front of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Jail.

A NEW MEMORIAL
For three years now, Thatcher and a committee of fellow union officers have been working on the memorial. There are 24 names inscribed on it, but several more to be added just from an examination of the history.

“The only way to add more would be to put them on the back, and I see that as disrespectful,” Thatcher said.

Working with Korte Construction, they formed the Madison County Fallen Officer Memorial Fund as a 501c3 nonprofit separate from the union. The reason for that, Thatcher said, is that it promises to be an expensive project and they didn’t want to put that burden on the union.

The rough estimate for the new memorial as designed by Korte is approximately $450,000 to $500,000. Thatcher is hopeful that they can raise that money through private donations and selling brick pavers for the plaza in front of the sheriff’s department. He’s received the support of both current Madison County Sheriff Jeff Connor and his predecessor, John Lakin, he said. They have artists’ renderings of what the memorial will look like, though the images of the two statues are stand-ins as their designs have not yet been decided, he said.

‘A FOCAL POINT’
“We wanted something that could be a focal point when you walk up to the building,” he said. It will encompass three large stones with the names and their end of watch, along with two statues and three flags. It will replace the plaza that is already there without encroaching on the parking lot, he said.

The nonprofit will primarily raise the money for construction, but then will continue as funding for ongoing maintenance, Thatcher said. Their mission statement says that they are dedicated to honoring officers who gave “the ultimate sacrifice” within the boundaries of the county. “With a strong belief in never forgetting our fallen brothers and sisters, we will strive to provide a place where our heroes can forever be memorialized, and a place where their family, friends and community can pay their respects,” it read.

The project is still in its infancy; they have just launched a website at madisoncountyfallenofficersmemorialfund.org, and the next few months will be the initial fundraising drive for the memorial. The stones alone will take at least nine months, Thatcher said, since they can only be sourced from three places in the U.S. Realistically, he said, it will be at least a year from initial deposits to get the project done.

But that isn’t deterring them, he said. “We’re all pretty passionate about it,” he said.


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