Town of Gary to update police memorial with plaque featuring names of fallen McDowell officers

GARY, WV (WOAY) – In the small town of Gary, the police force is trying to find the names of all fallen officers in the history of McDowell County. 

Earlier this month, the town of Gary honored all fallen police officers in the country by erecting a permanent memorial for them. Now, they want to update the memorial with a plaque featuring the names of every fallen police officer from McDowell County.

Police chief S.P. McKinney says he’s depending on the community to come forward if they know of anyone who was a police officer from McDowell who died on duty. 

“We’re asking that people who knew police officers in McDowell County down through the years that were killed contact Gary. Give us their name, department and how they died,” McKinney said.

McKinney wants the police memorial’s plaque to focus on the officers that died while trying to protect others. 

“What we’re gonna put on the actual listing of names is those who were killed in the line of duty. Maybe shot, killed in a car wreck, maybe struggling with someone and had a heart attack while trying to make the arrest, but they were on duty doing their job when they died.” 

Currently the town only knows of two police officers in McDowell’s history that were killed on duty, but they’re sure there are plenty more that the community knows about. They want to have the names ready by next year’s National Police Week in May. 

“What I’m really hoping for is by January 1st to have all the officers identified so that by the third Saturday in May we can have all the names up.”

McKinney says that he wants this to be a complete history. Whether it was an officer from 50 years ago or 150 years ago, he wants to know about them.

“We’re reaching back as far as we can. If there was someone killed in McDowell County killed in the 1800’s, 1900’s, we want to know it. We want this to be a complete anthology of those who laid down their life to protect others as we can compile.”

The town’s police memorial was put up on the third Saturday of this May, which was the last day of National Police Week. They’re hoping that once the plaque is up, they can begin having a yearly ceremony each May to honor the fallen officers of McDowell County and nation-wide. 

The town is also looking for funds to build a statue honoring police officers to go along with the memorial plaque.