Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Thursday, May 21, 2009 | 10:32 p.m.
Police Memorial Park
Hundreds stood silently as the red, white and blue lights lit up the night and the new Southern Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial.
Local, state and federal law enforcement personnel, dignitaries and friends and families paid respects to the 23 fallen officers in valley police history at the statue’s dedication ceremony Thursday night at Police Memorial Park, 3250 Metro Academy Way.
A candlelight vigil, a three-volley gun salute and the playing of taps highlighted the solemnity of the night. The event was made more poignant as Metro Police officers remembered the death of Officer James Manor, who died two weeks ago to the day.
“This is an event that we’re here to honor individuals that made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sheriff Doug Gillespie said. “And more importantly to show support to those families that still miss those individuals.”
The 28-foot tall monument honors all peace officers who their lives while in the line of duty while serving Sourthern Nevada.
The first was Joe Mulholland, a night watchman with Union Pacific, who died in 1905. The most recent was Manor who died May 7 in a car crash while on the way to a service call.
The monument joins the memorial rocks, trees and wall in the park that bear the names of deceased police personnel. Bolts inside the statue bear the initials of 22 of the fallen officers and the date they died. It was already built before Manor died.
“These bolts will never be seen again. But they are there inside holding the memorial together,” Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese said.
As the name of each fallen officer was read, relatives or a representative from the same law enforcement agency lit a candle.
The Las Vegas Quilters Guild made a quilt with the name and photo of each of the 23 fallen officers.
Steve Martinez, head of the FBI’s Las Vegas office, lit the candle for FBI Agent John Bailey who died in 1990. Bailey’s family no longer lives in the area, but a few agents who worked with him still work in Las Vegas. They held a private ceremony earlier in the day, Martinez said.
“To be included in this with all the other Southern Nevada law enforcement is very, very important to us,” he said. “We have a very close relationship with all of our law enforcement partners so being included is very meaningful to the FBI.”
Police often take the brunt of public scorn but it’s unfounded criticism by the vocal minority, County Commissioner Larry Brown said.
“That’s the easy way. I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. They’re very wrong,” he said. “Our police department, the men and women that wear the badge are the foundation of what makes our society so great.”
The monument’s artist, Adolfo Gonzalez, marveled at the placement of his work. The eagle on the statue overlooks the city as a guardian and the Spring Mountains tower in the background providing a magnificent backdrop, he said.
“It’s just awesome,” he said.