Fallen officers statue to get facelift in advance of 20th anniversary

Doug Finke

The 19-year-old statue honoring fallen police officers on the state Capitol grounds will be removed from its pedestal Wednesday and sent to Chicago for repairs.

There is no definite timetable for the statue's return, outside of it being back in place before May to mark its 20th anniversary.

The repair work will not cost the cash-strapped state any money. It is being paid for by the Police Memorial Committee, which gets most of its funding from the sale of specialty license plates through the secretary of state's office.

"There are no public funds involved with that statue at all," said Dave Johnson, a former sheriff's deputy and president of the committee.

The memorial – located on the southwest corner of the Capitol grounds – has a granite base on which the names of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty are engraved. Atop the base are is a life-sized statue depicting two law enforcement officers. One figure depicts a male officer reaching out to offer assistance. The other figure depicts a female officer holding up an out-turned hand, representing police as authority figures.

Johnson said people started noticing "some small holes and pitting of the figures," which are made of bronze. That's a problem because the figures are hollow and the damage could allow water inside of them.

Johnson said a more thorough investigation of the statue showed some other problems. Some of the nuts and bolts holding the statue in place are rusting, he said. That could lead to staining of the granite base. Plus, some of the welds are beginning to give way, Johnson said.

"It's really in bad shape," Johnson said.

The holes and pitting will be repaired, welds fixed and the bolts will be replaced with stainless steel or Teflon. The statue's patina will also be restored.

The work will be done by Sculpture Sources of Chicago. Johnson said the repairs will cost about $22,000.

To do this work, however, the figures have to be removed from the base.

"They'll disassemble the statue and take it back to back to Chicago," Johnson said. "The figures are separate. They'll actually dismantle it. It will leave here in a van."

The restoration work will take about a month, but that doesn't mean the statue will be returned that soon, Johnson said. They may keep the statue out of the weather during the winter and not return it until April, just before the 20th anniversary of the sculpture's unveiling in May.

The Police Memorial Committee gets most of its funding from the sale of police memorial license plates. Secretary of State spokesman Henry Haupt said more than 6,600 sets of police memorial plates are on the road. Motorists pay an extra $25 annually for the specialty plates. The first time plates are ordered, $10 of that extra fee goes to the committee fund. When plates are renewed, $23 goes to the memorial committee.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.