Picayune Police Department to unveil memorial

Published 1:23 am Sunday, October 4, 2009

The public is invited to attend the grand unveiling of the Picayune Police Department’s Law Enforcement Memorial.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the department will hold a dedication ceremony to unveil the memorial to the public. Police Chief Jim Luke said the ceremony is the next step in a year long journey.

The memorial, built in front of the department’s Criminal Justice Center on Main Street, has a large black stone engraved with words to honor fallen officers. On the ground in front of the memorial are bricks that honor past and present officers with room to honor officers who have yet to join the department. Black granite benches are planned as additions to each side of the large black stone in the center. Two flags also fly on either side of the memorial, an American flag and a Law Enforcement Memorial flag.

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Should it rain, the ceremony will take place at City Hall in the council chambers. A slide show will be shown at the rain day ceremony. Anyone unable to attend the memorial can see pictures and a video, to be taken by Carolyn Terry, and Bill Edwards respectively, on the department’s Web site.

A committee was formed a year ago to help put the wheels in motion to establish the memorial. That committee consists of four members of the department, Kris Landrum, Deputy Chief David Ervin, Capt. Lane Pittman, Capt. Chad Dorn and DUI Coordinator Ginger Bennett.

The purpose of the memorial is to preserve the memories and honor the sacrifices of each law enforcement officer, especially fallen officers. Luke said the public usually cares about how much law enforcement officers know, but seldom knows how much they care.

On the memorial are names of the department’s fallen officers. One of those officers was lost in the line of duty in 1964, E.L. “Buck” McGehee, while six others were lost while they were members of the department, Sgt. Ray Albin, Master Sgt. Paul Acker, Sgt. Jay Creel, Senior Patrol Officer Bob Walls, Senior Patrol Officer Delores Farve and Senior Patrol Officer D.C. Breland.

Luke said the profession of law enforcement, while at times dangerous, frustrating and tedious, is highly rewarding. He said that officers improve the quality of life for the citizens they serve by keeping the peace in spite of overwhelming odds.

“I believe it’s important the police officers and support personnel receive recognition, support and respect for the work that they do,” Luke said.

The ceremony will include songs performed by local talent, a 21-gun salute by the Mississippi Highway Patrol Honor Guard and a bagpipe performance. Attendees will have an opportunity to view the four shrines that display past and present department memorabilia. The shrines were constructed and donated by Picayune Vo-Tech instructor Winston Herndon, Gerald Abraham and Det. Blaine Heath.

Funds to pay for the memorial were raised through fund raisers, with no funds coming from the department’s budget. Fund raisers included, boot drives, can shakes, the street fair dunking booth and other citizen donations. A total of about $30,000 was raised through those efforts. Some of the funds were used to pay for the department’s Pay it Forward trip where members stopped at the various departments that assisted the Picayune area after Hurricane Katrina.

The memorial will become the location for each year’s National Law Enforcement Memorial Day ceremony, sometime during Police Week, May 11 to 17.

Luke said he would like to thank all the people who donated money, or construction time to complete the memorial.