City unveils law enforcement memorial

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 17, 2003

In a ceremony that could be described as nothing less than poignant, area law enforcement officials unveiled the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in front of City Hall on Thursday.

Guest speaker Montgomery Police Chief John Wilson offered words of solace to the families of fallen officers Gary Heath and Joe Herring to whom the memorial is dedicated.

&uot;I can certainly speak on this subject because I have had the misfortune to have had three people die during my time as a police officer,&uot; Wilson said. &uot;The only words of wisdom that I can offer to you is that it never gets any easier – no matter how many times it happens. To you law enforcement officers I would like to say that I may seem like a jerk to my officers at times, but if it means bringing you home alive to your families each night, then I will continue to be the biggest jerk they ever knew. Please know that, for the police chief, the guilt of losing a man under his watch never goes away.&uot;

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Police Chief Lonzo Ingram, who spearheaded the monument’s fundraising effort, offered his thanks to LaRae Heath, Gary Heath’s mother, who came up with the idea for the memorial.

&uot;I hope that this memorial will remind every citizen of the sacrifice these officers make every day for their community,&uot; Ingram said. &uot;They never know when they put on that uniform each day what awaits them as they go out to do their jobs. We are proud of them and hope this memorial will represent our appreciation of their dedication and commitment to the safety of our community.&uot;

The black marble memorial bears Heath and Herring’s names as the only two officers that have died in the line of duty in Butler County. Herring died in a traffic accident on his way to answer a call. Heath was shot during a robbery.

Family members of both families assisted in the unveiling of the memorial at the conclusion of the program. They were Heath’s brother, Michael, and sister-in-law, Valerie, joined by Joe Herring’s wife, Lora, his son, Keith and daughter, Regina Gorum.