NEW CENTURY, Kan. -- A metro group is trying to make sure fallen officers' names, photos, voices and sacrifices are forever remembered.
Since the beginning of 2018, at least 45 law enforcement officers across the U.S. have died while on duty, with 27 of the deaths caused by gunfire, according to a recent Fox News report.
The Kansas-based group, the Honor Campaign, is working to memorialize local fallen officers with unique monuments throughout the metro. The monuments are called Tribute Stones, small monuments embossed with each deputy’s name and picture.
Business owners Shelly and Jaren Higginbotham are behind this effort. They said what makes these stones unique is the powerful audio elements. Once activated, a recording plays of the officer's last radio calls, news stories about their death and the official police "last call and tone."
“Music touches your emotions, and the spoken word just touches your heart, it captures you,” Shelly Higginbotham said.
Right now, there’s one completed stone located in front of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in New Century, Kansas. It was made possible entirely through community donations to the Honor Campaign and money generated from fundraisers.
“We have been amazed at the outpouring of support. We live in a community that is so giving with such big hearts. It truly is the heart of America here,” Shelly said.
The couple said they wish there was never a reason to make these tributes, but with the recent deaths of Wyandotte County deputies Theresa King and Patrick Rohrer, more stones could be on the way.
“When there is a need, we respectfully respect the chain of command, and we meet with the sheriff when it’s appropriate. When that happens, we offer this gift from the community and offer it to the sheriff and then from there he checks with the families,” Shelly said.
Each stone costs about $10,000 to produce. They’re self-powered, so by turning a crank, you generate power for the recording to play.
Because each Tribute Stone is entirely paid for through fundraising and community donations, they’re always put on display in public areas for the everyone in the community to enjoy.
The Honor Campaign has three more Tribute Stones in the works to honor Capt. Dave Melton and Det. Brad Lancaster from the KCK Police Department, along with another stone for the 18 other officers from that department who have been killed in the line of duty. They’ve discussed honoring the two fallen Clinton officers in addition to King and Rohrer.
If you want to donate to the Honor Campaign to help make these stones possible, visit this site.