BECKLEY, W.Va. — A ceremony was held Thursday at the City of Beckley Police Department headquarters for the unveiling of a memorial honoring three department officers who died in the line of duty.
The Beckley Fallen Officers Memorial includes a sculpture of a lion, a traditional symbol used to honor American police officers who have died in the course of performing their sworn duties.
The memorial, located near the front entrance of the department headquarters on Neville Street, was dedicated to Patrolman Carl D. Buckland, Sgt. David L. Lilly and Detective Cpl. Charles E. Smith II.
Deputy Chief of Police J.R. Corey, who led a departmental planning committee for the creation of the memorial, said his fellow officers considered several proposals before agreeing on a choice for the design used at the site.
“When the building committee got together from the old building, we didn’t have very much to honor our fallen, other than we had pictures and markings on the wall to honor them. We knew when we were building the new police department that we really wanted a permanent structure that would be here as long as the building was,” Corey said.
“The reason we went with a lion is because it is what is on our National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. It symbolizes courage and dedication and honor and strength, and we wanted to stick with that.”
Sharon Volpe, the daughter of Buckland, said the loss of her father caused her to become acutely aware of the potential dangers police encounter, as well as the anguish families endure when an officer dies in the line of duty.
“They do seek each other out, and that’s good that we have that support group. I hope and pray that there’s never another name put on that wall,” she said. “The memorial is beautiful, and I think it really resembles the peace of the peace officers and what they tried to uphold. They were very courageous.”
Virginia-based Kline Memorials was hired to design the memorial site. The Thrasher Group, which constructed the recently-opened police headquarters, also was the contractor for the memorial.
In addition to Corey, Beckley Police Chief Lonnie Christian and Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold spoke during the dedication service, which included an honor guard ceremony and presentation of American flags to the families of the three fallen officers.