Memorial at Statehouse honoring fallen law enforcement officers to be expanded

photo by: Peter Hancock

In this file photo from May 4, 2018, a pipe and drum corps marches past the Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial during the 36th annual memorial service honoring peace officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The memorial, which is now nearly full, will soon be expanded with an outer ring of markers to accommodate additional names in future years.

TOPEKA — A memorial outside the Kansas Statehouse honoring law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty will soon be expanded.

Gov. Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, along with other state officials, announced Monday that plans were underway to add a second concentric ring of memorial markers outside the existing monument so that additional names can be added in future years.

“Unfortunately, the memorial is nearing being full,” Schmidt said Monday. “We have 281 officers’ names on the memorial. There is room for an additional 39 names. Tragically, we will add three for the current year, and we pray that that’s all we will add for the current year.”

According to Schmidt’s office, those three officers are Wyandotte County Deputies Patrick Rohrer and Theresa Sue King, who were shot and killed in June while transporting a prisoner; and Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kenneth Kunze III, who was shot and killed while responding to a call about a suspicious person in September.

Each year in May, law enforcement officials from around the state gather at the memorial to honor their fallen comrades and to recognize any new names that are added.

The memorial was dedicated in 1987, but it includes the names of officers who have died in the line of duty since 1866, when Ogden City Marshal Felix A. Boller was shot and killed after observing a group of soldiers that had entered a private home in the town.

“It is a history that should be remembered, and one that our children should see, our grandchildren should see and our great-grandchildren should appreciate,” Colyer said during the ceremony Monday.

In addition to the expansion of the memorial, the state has also launched a new website that enables users to browse through the names on the memorial and read the biographies of those whose names are etched in its stone.

Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Mark Bruce said it was both good and sad that the memorial was about to be expanded.

“This is a glass half-empty, glass half-full event,” he said. “Our collective hearts cringe at the thought of making more room for the names of officers killed in the line of duty. But by doing so, we pledge to permanently recognize the magnitude of the price they paid.”

Schmidt said the project is estimated to cost $500,000 and, so far, organizers have raised about $425,000 of that cost through private donations.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the memorial expansion can do so through the new website, www.kansaslawenforcementmemorial.com.

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