New statue unveiled at police station

Sculpture meant to show good community relations replaces one destroyed by car

August 18, 2006|By NICOLE FULLER | NICOLE FULLER,SUN REPORTER

Since 2003, a small, grassy hill outside the Baltimore Police Department's Southern District station house has been officially vacant.

Before that, for many of the years since the police station's opening in 1986, a life-size concrete statue depicting an officer kneeling to greet a child stood at the corner of Hanover Street and Cherry Hill Road.

The work of art represented the hope for a positive relationship between the police and the community - one of respect and understanding.

But then a car involved in a traffic accident careened up that small hill and knocked the child down, destroying the statue.

Last night, about 50 community members and police officials gathered to see a new one unveiled.

After the accident, residents of the area flooded the station house with calls to say they missed it.

Jack Baker, president of the Southern District Police Community Relations Council, took action.

"The citizens of South Baltimore missed it," Baker said as he stood beside the statue - flanked by Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm and state legislators. "Citizens would not stop calling: `Why don't you fix it?'"

Proclaiming the station house the "home of the best cops in the city," Baker said, "It represents respect and love between our officers and our kids."

With about $7,500 from the driver's insurance coverage, Baker and others lobbied the city for the remaining cash to pay for a replacement statue.

Mayor Martin O'Malley kicked in with a $7,500 grant from the Neighborhoods First Capital Account, said Israel C. Patoka, director of the mayor's office of neighborhoods.

Kim Domanski, the public art director for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, found three artists - Ledelle Moe and Jesse Burrowes of Brooklyn and Tim Scofield of Bolton Hill - who could handle the task.

They spent a month working on the 2,500-pound concrete statue.

Southern District Officer Dena Roney of the community relations unit was given the task of finding models to pose for the artists, but did not have to go far: her husband, Officer Jerry L. Roney Jr., an eight-year veteran of the district, and their youngest daughter, Jadia, 4.

They posed about 20 minutes, Jerry Roney said - for photographs to be taken for the artists to use as guides.

The result depicts Roney kneeling on his right knee and touching Jadia's shoulder. She is wearing her father's police cap.

Gazing up at the likeness, Jerry Roney said he was proud of the statue.

"It think it looks like my daughter," Roney said. "But I don't think it looks like me."

"I think it's wonderful," said the Roneys' older daughter, Jessica, 8.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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