Former sheriff leads efforts to create law enforcement memorial
Every May, the city honors fallen officers from Grand Forks and surrounding areas in a ceremony outside the courthouse.
But former sheriff and now County Commissioner Bob Rost has been searching for a way to pay permanent respect to those who lost their lives in the line of duty. Rost said he's been working on plans for more than four years to create the Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial in Grand Forks' Optimist Park.
"I really wanted to do it while I was still in office, but I just ran out of time," he said.
He reached out to ICON Architectural Group, and the idea gained traction. Kyle Kvamme, the Director of Project Development and Community Engagement, said the firm is donating their time by creating the design and helping fundraise.
"I think it's one of those pillars, where as a member of this community, I feel like law enforcement officers are underappreciated—locally, regionally, nationally, all over the place," Kvamme said. "They risk their lives everyday to make sure that we have a great community to live in, and it seems like it's the least we can do to just honor them."
Rost said there's a similar memorial in Bismarck, but there are no other monuments dedicated to law enforcement throughout the state.
"It would be really nice to be a leader in that," Kvamme said. "With a community our size, we've got to have something like that. ... And to not only have it, but to civically lead the charge in how we honor our law enforcement veterans—I think it's just a great thing to be a part of."
Rost said the memorial will include granite slabs with the names of fallen Minnesotan, North Dakotan, federal and Canadian officers.
An officer from the Grand Forks Police Department was killed during duty in 1966, and the sheriff's office lost a deputy in 1952. Surrounding agencies have lost officers more recently, though. Deputy Sheriff Colt Eugene Allery of the Rolette (N.D.) County Sheriff's Office was fatally shot on duty near Belcourt in January 2017.
Rost said an initial plan was approved by the Park Board almost two-and-a-half years ago, but a lot of things have changed since then. There's another meeting next week to go over preliminary plans, and Kvamme said official fundraising will kickoff afterward.
The project needs about $200,000 before Rost's dream can become reality.
Kvamme said it's likely an event will be held in Optimist Park during the summer. He said he hopes to raise enough money to open the memorial by fall.
Donations can be sent to the Grand Forks Parks and Recreation Foundation at 1060 47th Ave. S, Grand Forks, ND 58201, Attn: Police Memorial or P.O. Box 12429, Attn: Police Memorial. Credit card donations can be made over the phone at (701) 746-2750.