SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz, Retired First Deputy Jack S. Garcia, Retired Colonel Scott Giles, and the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation were joined by many active and retired State Police family and friends today during the Illinois State Police Memorial Park Groundbreaking Ceremony.
The park, formerly known as Becker Park, is located immediately north of the Illinois State Police Central Headquarters on Lawrence Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets in Springfield. The land was donated by AON to the ISP Heritage Foundation in 2007.
“The Memorial Park will give the tranquility to surviving family members to pay tribute to Illinois State Troopers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” stated ISP Director Leo Schmitz. “The fallen troopers legacy will be carried on and give a constant reminder to visitors of their honor,” he added.
“I have always found inspiration in the heroism of our police officers. Kyle exhibited that trait each and every time he walked out the door, his ultimate goal was to make someone’s life a little better,” stated Sarah Deatherage. “The ISP Memorial Park will be a place visitors can reflect and pay their respects,” she added.
In addition to the groundbreaking ceremony, the Illinois State Troopers were honored posthumously on November 7, 2015 with an Emmy award. The short film, NOT FORGOTTEN (https://youtu.be/Wl2DrwPtRBc), is a touching story of Illinois’ fallen men and women told through the eyes of three family survivors. The film, produced to raise awareness for the loss endured by loved ones and the need to build the ISP Memorial Park for all fallen Illinois State Troopers was a gift from the Andrew T. Berlin Family Foundation.
Funds for the Memorial Park are raised through Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation. To date, significant donors include: State Farm, Motorola, Knights Engineering, Walgreens, and Berlin Packaging. Various annual events are held throughout the year to supplement the major donations. Approximately, 1.5 million dollars are still needed to complete the Memorial Park. A GoFundMe account, has been established to assist in the fund raising efforts https://www.gofundme.com/ISP-Memorial-Park.
“Today, let us remember the brave Illinois State Police fallen officers who died serving our state and the troopers who selflessly stood in harm’s way to save a citizen in need,” stated retired First Deputy Jack Garcia. “The ISP Memorial Park will be a location onlookers can visit and pay tribute to the men and women who took the oath of Integrity, Service and Pride,” he added.