Law Enforcement Memorial reaches goal

Thanks to a fresh set of pledges, the Law Enforcement Memorial of Sedgwick County has reached its fundraising goal.

Organizers have said they wanted $600,000 to pay for the memorial and have money set aside to maintain it and add names when necessary.

"I think we're in great shape," said Capt. Randy Landen, coordinator of the memorial campaign. "We've got everything picked out or lined up."

The memorial honors the 29 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Sedgwick County, from Deputy Sheriff Carlos King in 1871 to Deputy Brian Etheridge on Sept. 28.

Etheridge, 26, was gravely wounded after he was shot in the back with a rifle by a 27-year-old man as he responded to a larceny report at a house on South Rock Road. He died later at Wesley Medical Center.

Etheridge is the first local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty since Wichita Police Lt. Jack Galvin in 2000.

"That was kind of a stark reminder of why we're doing this project," Landen said. "We had planned to add names. It's just one of those things you hope you never have to do.

"Before we even get the project completed, we have to add a name."

Construction of the memorial is under way at the corner of Central and Main next to City Hall in downtown Wichita. Concrete has been poured and stone work should begin shortly, Landen said.

The bronze lions that are a centerpiece of the memorial have been completed, he said.

Dedication of the memorial will take place sometime in the spring, Landen said, although no date has been set.

The badge-shaped memorial includes a secluded reflection area featuring bronzed replicas of the boots or shoes worn by the fallen officers.

Etheridge's family has given a pair of his boots to sculptor Connie Ernatt so she can make a bronze replica of them for his plaque.

"The entire time we've been working on this project, we haven't had an officer killed in the line of duty," Landen said. "And now we have."