‘Tribute Stones’ honor fallen police officers

It's a startling statistic. So far this year, 42 law enforcement officers from around the country have lost their lives in the line of duty.

In Kansas City, there is a new organization called the Honor Campaign that is trying to build monuments to remember those fallen heroes.

Johnson County Sheriff's Officer Brandon Collins lost his life in 2016 when he was hit by a truck during a traffic stop. His fellow officers will never forget his 20 years on the force.

"We miss him every day," says fellow officer Lt. Paul Nonnast.

But there is a memorial that brings those who loved Collins a little comfort. It's called a Tribute Stone. It stands at the sheriff's office in Gardner, Kansas and it's readily available to friends and family who want to hear some of Collins' last words, taken from recordings of his final call.

“The audio element to it takes you right back," explains Lt. Nonnast. "I remember where I was when I found out Brandon had been killed. It brings him back and gives us a chance to still be with him and that is important to everyone.”

After numerous attacks on police officers across the country in 2016, business owners Jaren and Shelly Higginbotham were inspired to honor fallen officers and encourage others to do the same.

According to Shelly Higginbotham, “This is the heart of America. People came out of the woodwork and said, we want to support these families who have lost their loved ones so the hero’s legacy can live on.”

Now Honor Campaign is raising money for Tribute Stones to be placed in front of the Kansas City, Kansas City Hall. They will pay tribute to Detective Brad Lancaster and Captain David Melton who both lost their lives in 2016. The audio recording will tell their stories to fellow officers, community members, and family for generations to come.

Deputy Chief Michael York of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department believes the Tribute Stones are so much more poignant that just engraving a name on a monument.

“Dave and Brad had young kids. They will be able to come when they get older and listen to what happened to him. Listen to the tragic story of how they lost their lives in the line of duty.”

The vision for Honor Campaign is big. They want to raise money from the community to place Tribute Stones for all fallen officers with their stories memorializing their lives and heroism in the line of duty.

Co-Founder Jaren Higginbotham says, “Unfortunately, we will lose about 150 law enforcement officers a year, and every one of them leaves behind a family and children. They are wondering if everyone will remember it was an act of sacrifice.”

The Honor Campaign is raising money for the three stones in Kansas City, Kansas. They are hoping to dedicate them in a couple of weeks. If you would like to contribute to the effort, go to the Honor Campaign website.