After 15 years, Cook County cop memorial effort about halfway to goal

November 01, 2017

The Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society of the Chicago Police Department perform at an annual Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony in 2013 at Cermak Woods in Lyons, the site of a proposed permanent memorial for police officers from Cook County departments who were killed in the line of duty. (Ed Sajdak photo) 

 

Courtesy of  Ginger Brashinger Daily Southtown

 

If persistence truly pays off, the Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Cook County will eventually break ground for the Peace Officers Memorial.

Ed Sajdak, a superintendent of the Criminal Courts Division for the Cook County Sheriff's Department and founder and president of the foundation, said after 15 years of fundraising and planning, the foundation has reached about halfway to its $3 million goal. That amount is needed, he said, to build a memorial in honor of Cook County police officers who have died in the line of duty or have been killed while in the performance of duty.

 

Sajdak said an important step in the process was accomplished in 2001, when the Cook County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners set aside a piece of land for the memorial at Cermak Woods Forest Preserve in Lyons.

But, there's still a long way to go to complete the task, Sajdak said. His not-for-profit organization needs more private donations if the memorial is to be built.

"We'd like to raise $1 million (more) as quickly as possible because at that point, we can go ahead and break ground and the (rest) we can raise as it's being built," he said.

To that end, the foundation will hold its 14th annual Fall Fundraiser from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday at 115 Bourbon St. 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park.

Tickets will be sold at the door or by calling 708-424-6749. The $35 ticket will include a food buffet, beverages and live music emceed by Chicago radio personality Eddie Volkman.

Activities will include split-the-pot, cash and pick-your-choice raffles and prize giveaways. A silent auction will feature autographed sports memorabilia.

 

Sajdak said the idea to erect a Cook County peace officers memorial began with the 1992 death of Cook County Deputy Sheriff Al Brown following an altercation with a prisoner at the Markham County Courthouse that left Brown with a fatal head injury.

While working to have Brown's star retired, Sajdak and his fellow officers discovered that although Chicago, state and national memorials exist honoring fallen officers, there was nothing closer than Springfield that honored members of fallen officers from agencies in Cook County who were not members of the Chicago Police Department. He said his research showed that 71 departments in Cook County have lost an officer in the line of duty.

"They deserve to have some recognition," he said.

Sajdak said foundation members also believed it could be difficult for some families to travel to Springfield to visit the place where loved ones were honored for their service.

"So, when I looked at that … there really should be something here in … the community, the county (where) they served and paid the ultimate sacrifice, that should recognize their sacrifice and give us an opportunity to pause and show our respects," Sajdak said.

 

The foundation was started in 2001, and in 2002 Oak Park architect George Beach, of B3 Architecture, and Hans Butzer, a former resident of Flossmoor resident who designed the Oklahoma City National Memorial, worked with Sajdak to design the proposed Peace Officers Memorial.

Sajdak said each corner of a five-pointed star in the design, which can be seen at the foundation website, points to a different area of the county where law enforcement officers serve.

 

Sajdak said the names of every fallen Cook County police officer will be listed on the memorial, and a separate area will honor the deceased dogs of the police K-9 units.

Sajdak said currently 743 fallen Cook County officers are on the list of those who will be honored.

"We picked a beautiful piece of property … where people … can go and sit and contemplate at this memorial," Sajdak said.

 

More information on the memorial effort is at www.pomfcc.org.

Ginger Brashinger is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

 

Fallen officers honored at memorial service Foundation raising cash for permanent display in county forest preserve

May 11, 2010

 Courtesy of the Times Staff 

Police officers and other law enforcement personnel from as many as 60 different departments gathered Monday for the Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Cook County’s annual memorial ceremony.

The ceremony, now in its ninth year, honors Cook County peace officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

The ceremony took place at the Cermak Woods Forest Preserve, 7601 W. Ogden Ave., in Lyons.

 

The ceremony focused primarily on those killed within the last year, including Chicago Police Officer Alejandro "Alex" Valadez.

On June 1, Valadez and his partner were questioning residents about a report of shots fired when a car pulled up and someone started shooting at them. Officer Valadez was shot twice and died a short while later. He had been a police officer for 3 years.

 

The ceremony also paid tribute to three historical honorees who died in the line of duty:

-- Officer Michael Robbins, of the Chicago Police Department, died on Sept. 13, 2008, from injuries sustained when he was shot while on duty 14 years earlier. He had been a police officer for 8 years.

-- Deputy Richard Vail, of the Cook County Sheriff’s office, died March 13, 1969, after suffering a heart attack during a struggle with a suspect. He had been with the Sheriff’s office for a year and a half.

-- Deputy Frank Dannenberg, of the Cook County Sheriff’s office, died December 25, 1967, after being beaten while serving an eviction notice. He had been with the Sheriff’s office for nine months.

The Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Cook County recently lobbied to have Vail and Dannenberg added to the National Memorial Wall. They will be added May 15 as part of National Peace Officer Memorial Day.

The Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Cook County was formed in 2001 and is comprised of law enforcement officers from throughout Cook County. Their goal is to establish a permanent police memorial dedicated to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty or killed while in the performance of duty. The Cook County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners has donated the land in Cermak Woods where the ceremony takes place, and the foundation is working to raise money for the permanent memorial.

 

For more information on the foundation visit www.pomfcc.org.

Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Cook County president Edward Sajdak stands at the future site of the Peace Officers Memorial in Cermak Woods in Lyons.

October 25, 2008

Courtesy of Cari Brokamp, cbrokamp@mysuburbanlife.com Lyons Suburban Life

 

 

The Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Cook County will host a fundraiser next weekend to support a tribute planned in the name of the 672 peace officers that have been killed in the county’s history.


Foundation President Edward Sajdak said the nonprofit was established in 2002 to honor the memories of all of those law enforcement officers, dating back to the first officer fatality on record in the county in the mid-1800s.

Q What is the mission of the Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Cook County?


A Our primary purpose is to honor all peace officers that have been killed in the line of duty from agencies throughout Cook County and establishing the Peace Officers Memorial in their memory.

Q Why is it so important that their memories be honored?


A They sacrifice their lives for the citizens of the community. We have a national memorial for officers in Washington, D.C., and a state memorial in Springfield, but considering the fact that more than 75 percent of officers killed in the line of duty in Illinois were killed in Cook County, we thought it would be very appropriate to have a memorial in the county in which they served.

Q Funds raised at the event will go toward the Peace Officers Memorial. What will that memorial entail?


A We are at the final design stages of the memorial and this money is helping us pay for the architects’ costs. The county has donated the location in the Cermak Woods Forest Preserve in Lyons, near Harlem and Ogden avenues. It’s going to be an area people can walk into with several walls, which will contain the names of the officers that have been killed.

 

Want to get involved?
The organization’s fundraiser will offer a food buffet, open bar, disc jockey, door prizes, raffle and auction for a donation of $30. Tickets can be purchased at the door for the event, which will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park. For more information, visit www.pomfcc.org, e-mail pomfcc@aol.com or call (708) 424-6749.

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