Memorial honors officers' sacrifices

It pays tribute to 5 killed while on duty in county

`This way, people won't forget'

May 30, 2002|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

When the Howard County Police Department's memorial to five peace officers who died while on duty in Howard was unveiled yesterday, relief washed over the officers' family members.

Not because the memorial would ease their pain or brighten their memories. But because the memorial would ensure their loved ones' place in history.

"This way, people won't forget" the five officers, said Ethel Miller Koontz, a daughter of sheriff's Deputy Frank J. Miller, who died while struggling with a prisoner in 1946. "It's comforting."

The memorial is beside police headquarters on Courthouse Drive. It features a statue of a police officer holding the hands of two children, flagpoles and five marble slabs with the names of the peace officers who died while serving in Howard County. It took nearly two years to plan and cost $80,000.

Much of the money came from the Howard County Police Foundation, which donated proceeds from an annual race held in September.

Two Howard County police officers have died in the line of duty: Officer Randolph E. Brightwell, who was murdered by a robbery suspect in 1961; and Roger D. Cassell Jr., a recruit who collapsed and died after physical training in 1994.

The memorial also honors three officers from other organizations who died while working in Howard: Charles T. Weber, who worked with the former Howard County constable office, was hit by a driver in 1924; Miller, who died of a heart attack while struggling with a prisoner in 1946; and state police Cpl. Theodore D. Wolf Sr. was fatally shot during a 1990 traffic stop.

"We felt it was important to [honor other officers] ... police work is police work," Howard County Police Chief Wayne Livesay said.

It is the first permanent memorial that honors all of the men who died while on duty in Howard County.

"This is an afternoon that is long, long overdue," said County Executive James N. Robey, who served on the county's police force for 32 years and was chief for seven.

The families of many of the men said they were beginning to doubt their loved ones would ever be honored in Howard County. "You always hope that people will remember him, but you're never sure if they will," said Ginni Wolf, who was married to Theodore Wolf for 12 years. "Now, you can be sure."

Police are planning to make additions to the memorial garden in 2003 that will recognize businesses that donated to the garden, but hope that the memorial does not grow beyond its five inaugural members.

"May no names be added to this memorial," the Rev. Martin Eppard, police chaplain, said in his opening prayer.

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