Fallen Officers Memorial damaged in DUI crash
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Topeka man was taken into custody for driving under the influence and running over the Fallen Officers Memorial outside the Law Enforcement Center.
“It is very difficult to place a monetary value on a sentimental value that the memorial has for all the officers,” said Topeka Police Deputy Chief Jamey Haltom.
The Fallen Officers Memorial has stood in the parking lot of the Law Enforcement Center for 25 years.
”It was erected through a committee with the Fraternal Order of Police, the Topeka Police Department, and the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to memorialize the men and women in law enforcement that have given the ultimate sacrifice during their duties,” said Haltom.
In one night, that symbol of bravery was destroyed.
Officers from the Topeka Police Department responded to the incident around 9:39 p.m. on Sunday, November 13.
They said Maicol G. Garcia-Soto, 27, of Topeka ran a red light at SE 4th and SE Quincy St. Police said he then continued through the Law Enforcement Center parking lot at 320 S. Kansas Ave., ran over the Fallen Officers Memorial that sits between the Topeka Police Department and Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, and reversed hitting a building in the 400 block of SE Quincy.
Garcia-Soto was arrested and faces charges of Criminal Desecration, Felony Criminal Damage, Driving Under the Influence, Battery on LEO, Felony Interference, Red Light Violation, Unsafe Backing, Driving on the Sidewalk, and Improper Turn.
TPD said the memorial was significantly damaged in the incident.
Haltom said it was hard to come to work Monday morning and see the pieces scattered on the ground.
He added, “Everyday when I arrive at work, in the morning, I drive past that memorial and it serves as a reminder to me why I am here and why I do what I do and the sacrifice that the men and women at this agency and at the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office make every day to make sure that our citizens are safe.”
As clean up crews work to salvage anything they can, Haltom said they are working with the other agencies to rebuild the memorial, so the 12 officers etched in stone are never forgotten.
”I think it is just important that the community knows why these officers are here and why they do what they do every day,” he continued saying, “And, they do that knowing that they may have to give the ultimate sacrifice someday.”
Ten of the names in the memorial represent the Topeka Police Department and two are from the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office. Haltom said the plan is to keep much of the memorial the same and reuse any materials that were not heavily damaged.
The Fraternal Order of Police Foundation has set up a Law Enforcement Memorial Fund to help restore the memorial. Anyone interested in donating can visit the Topeka Police Credit Union at 320 S. Kansas Ave.
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