There may come a time, Heaven forbid it, when your department suffers the unbelievable tragedy of an officer killed in the line of duty. As police officers ourselves, we have lived through the loss of partners; these were officers we may have spent time with, working side by side in the confines of a squad car, or, perhaps, we only knew such an officer casually; maybe he worked in the next precinct, maybe we only knew him by his name or said, “Hi,” as we passed each other in the hallways. But, in every case, even the experience of hearing of an officer killed in a neighboring city, maybe somewhere clear across the country; we suffer quietly as if we had been partners. Big cities have more killed, small towns less in number, perhaps, but the unforgivable nature of such an event spares no department, nor any officer.
My Minneapolis Police Department has lost 44 officers in its history. I knew the eight who died during my short 20 years on the job between 1969 and 1989; Officer Rich Miller, my training officer who I spent my very first night in the squad with, was shot and killed on August 25, 1981, he was 59 years old and close to retirement. This subject is always difficult to talk about, but there may come a time when we decide to create a Memorial to their lives and careers. Memorials are for the living as much as those who have passed, they are for the old-timers who remember walking beats, for the men and women who are working now and those who will put on the uniform someday, of course, memorials are for the survivors, the families. I was in “rookie school” in 1969 when a juvenile officer in plain clothes, name of Richard Berquist, responded to a burglary in progress call and was shot to death on April 7th of that year; I, along with my 39 fellow rookies, still in school, attended our first officer’s funeral and said goodbye to a man we never met. I remember it as if it were yesterday and it is now over 40 years ago. There may come a time.
So, later, the thought comes, “We need to do something to help us remember.” Brodin Studios has been involved in many, many Memorials, and so we have a perspective both from the inside of police work, and now from the outside. We may be able to help, but it remains an unspeakable subject; we can’t even bring up the thought, it has to come from within, from your department, from you and your partners. We all know that from history’s perspective, there have been many on-duty deaths and we all know too well that there’s the potential; it could happen to any of us on any call or traffic stop. Visit, please, if you will, the video (in this section of the site) made by the Delaware State Memorial, and in it, Vice President Joe Biden gives a very moving speech as he pays his respects to the many names of the fallen on the granite walls behind, he wonders how it is that law enforcement officers everywhere seem to be different; he says what they do is counter-intuitive, they run in towards trouble when everybody else runs out. As he speaks, the video is scrolling through the faces of the many officers, state troopers, men and women from the State of Delaware who were killed on duty. There can’t be a dry eye anywhere within range of his voice.
The fallen should never be forgotten! So, how then, how does one create a Law Enforcement Memorial. Brodin Studios has, in a way, unfortunately, been brought into that process when departments request information on bronzes that we’ve previously created in the past, most statues for projects other than Memorials, and asks us our opinion. We’ve been there many times and worked through the early planning of a Memorial design, the fund-raising, and later the building of the sculpture and surrounding elements, but, at all times, we simply assist. We’ve found that sending out photos of earlier Memorial designs helps and we know that putting the new department together with project organizers who have built their own Memorials is a very good thing. And, we certainly have many names and phone numbers and we are happy to provide those to you so you can talk directly to those who have gone through the process.
Chief Kevin McDerby would be a good person to call if you’re considering the start of a Memorial. Kevin is formerly a Delaware State Trooper, now is Chief of Police in New Castle. He is bashful about taking credit, but everyone will tell you he was instrumental and worked tirelessly in building the wonderful Memorial that you can see in the short slide-show video below. There is also a longer DVD production that you might want to look for, it contains the Biden speech I mentioned above and the whole Delaware Memorial Ceremony, it’s an extremely emotional 33 minutes (we’ve broken it into three sections so you may view it on our website). If you want a copy on DVD, we’ll make sure one is sent to you, give somebody a call.
I found that even writing this introduction has been very difficult. We’re very serious about this subject and so we were fearful to even bring up the subject in such a public manner as a website, but we guess the internet is just one more way that the world has changed. But, as change might be true on the surface, we know that police work and its dangers can never change. I’m smiling now as I was getting ready to sign off by telling you guys still working to be safe, because it made me think about that sergeant on Hill Street Blues, you remember, the TV show way back in time (we made a special little statue for him), what was his name? He’d say it as he ended roll call, “Now, be careful out there.”