History of the creation of the DPS Officer Monument & Memorial Statue & Honor Walls
By Vickie Toll
Retired DPS Detective Frank Shankwitz was on a trip to Albany, New York attending a Homicide School. There, was a small museum that he visited while in Albany and there, was a New York trooper statue to honor officers killed in the line of duty. This trip to a small museum created the concept of the DPS Officer Monument and Memorial. Had Detective Shankwitz never visited the museum and brought to us the inspiration of a DPS Officer Memorial its existence would most likely not be with us today.
In 1995, the Officer Monument Committee was founded by the AHPA, Associated Highway Patrolmen of Arizona, now named the Arizona State Troopers Association, Chaired by Frank Shankwitz with, at this time only a handful of committee members.
This committee was formed to find funding sources for a statue and memorial walls, to honor DPS officers killed in the line of duty and to give tribute to all DPS officers as well, retired and active. The walls are a memorial to DPS officers killed in the line of duty. The statue stands for sworn DPS who have served, are now in service, and those yet to serve.
To Officers Past – A Tribute
To Officers Present – A Reminder
To Officers Yet to Come – A Legacy
The DPS Officer Monument Statue and Memorial walls would never have been a reality today except for the unrelenting dedication of the committee members, the AHPA and monetary supporters. The AHPA funded “seed” money in the amount of $3,000 to begin work on this tribute to officers past and present. The amount needed for the statue and base for the statute was $100,000. The AHPA gave the committee the first $3,000 to get started.
On February 1, 1996 the Officer Monument Committee was in its first official stages of formation and meetings. This was the first meeting where minutes were taken. Attending this meeting were, Frank and Kitty Shankwitz, Frank Delaney, Fritz Renter, Mary Baumann, Susan Snow, Gene Spilman and Vickie Dail (Toll). During this meeting the committee discussed a design for the monument stationery to be used for requesting donations to the Officer Memorial Fund. We were in the process of having a video made on the work and process of the making of the statue staring Artist Bill Nebeker. The size of the statue, its location, cost, and costs associated with the statue and memorial walls were discussed at this meeting. Sergeant Chuck Herrera was the artist who drew the original raw draft of the officer monument and base. Chuck was a civilian who worked in Facilities at the time. This drawing was given to the statue artist Bill Nebeker of Prescott. He was provided an actual DPS badge, hat and gun belt so that everything on the statue would be to form for a DPS officer. To set the record straight, let it be known that Commander Bill McCance was used as the replica for the statue for proportionate only. The DPS Photo Lab took pictures of Commander McCance in uniform at stance for artist Nebeker to use in the statue construction. Nebeker was the creator/builder of the bronze statue and he used Chuck’s base drawing for the statue and base and photos of McCance and DPS gear, and built the statue from there on. There is a video in existence of the process in building the statue.
Honorary members were those persons who actually solicited money for the Officer Monument. Unspoken of course, the committee members were also involved in getting funding. The committee was growing. The newest members at this meeting were Gene Spilman, Frank Delaney and Vickie Dail (Toll).
The next meeting was on February 20, 1996, the committee decided on a company to print a brochure about the DPS Officer Monument and memorial walls. Since the February 1st meeting, Fritz Renter and Frank Shankwitz had been working with the architect committee regarding area space and location of the monument. The base of the monument was to be 6’ x 6’ wide and 3’ high. The statute height will be 9-10 ½ feet. Plans were that there would be exterior lighting on all angles of the statue.
Concerns had surfaced from sworn personnel that the monument was specific to male gender. The committee discussed these concerns and it was determined that the statue is symbolic of an officer. It is not feasible at this time, to have a second statue (female) which would also bring about adding canines, reserves, motors, SOU, detectives, etc… The Department did however agree on a donation of space for a second statue. In addition, the memorial walls are for sworn only who are killed in the line of duty.
Mailing out letters soliciting donations were of priority to begin receiving funding for the $100,000 needed. As of the meeting date (February 20, 1996) the Officer Monument Committee bank account balance was $3,193.00. The next meeting was scheduled for April 16, 1996.
Because donations from Department employees were not probable to raise the $100,000 committee members spearheaded numerous ideas for promotions for funding. Eddie Basha agreed to let committee members place plastic coin drop containers at check out registers at grocery stores for donations of cash and currency. These were monitored by committee members and netted approximately $5,000 by May 1997. The AHPA donated a Sig Sauer weapon for a raffle, also raffled were National Finals Rodeo Tickets. We made contacts for public service announcements and newspaper advertisements. A fleet vendor list was obtained from DOA and approximately 500+ solicitation letters for donations were mailed to various establishments explaining the goal and purpose of the DPS Officer Monument Statue and Memorial. These letters and the time spent mailing them out were on personal time.
At the July 9, 1996 meeting, new honorary members were Tom Jonovich, Robert Stuchen, Robert Schoneberger and Patrick McGroder. Commander David Gonzales volunteered to write an article for the Digest. The committee requested press and media coverage via AHPA contacts and DPS PIO Officer Bob Stein would be requested to promote the statue and monument through DPS media contacts. Minutes of this meeting reported that if by January 1997, $50,000 had not been received via donations for the statue both from officers, civilians and private entities, then the efforts would be abolished and all monies received will be returned to donators.
Thank you letters to each contributor/donator were published in the AHPA magazine. As of July 16, 1996 the Monument account balance was $5,939.34. At the August 20, 1996 meeting the committee voted to extend the cut off date for the $50,000 to April 30, 1997. DPS PIO Officer Bob Stein attended the meeting and agreed to contact local newspapers and television personnel regarding our efforts on the Officer Monument/Memorial. Stein suggested we contact rural district commanders to contact local newspapers to report on the DPS Officer Monument/Memorial fund raising efforts. The committee finalized the brochure. They were made available to all department employees and placed in areas of interest hoping to bring in donations for the monument.
By this time, DPS Sergeant Bill Whalen became Co-Chairman of the committee and gave the boost needed to get a second wind. He obtained a donator of approximately 600+ pieces of artwork to be used to raise money for the Officer Memorial/Monument. This would be done by a silent art auction. Following is a letter to the Crescent Hotel, Director requesting a room be donated for a “Silent Auction” of artwork.
Minutes noted that on May 10, 1997, newspaper and radio coverage was arranged promoting the “Silent Auction.” All proceeds to the DPS Officer Monument/Memorial. AHPA President Tom Powers and Co-Chairman Whalen were to attend a segment on KTAR Radio on May 7, promoting the event. And then on Saturday, June 21, in the early morning hours Monument Committee Members and family were hard at work toting and cleaning the 600 pieces of artwork that had been in storage. A crew formed a human chain to hand off piece after piece down the building’s hallway to the U-Haul truck waiting for delivery to the AHPA storage site. Of course what is loaded, has to be UNLOADED. Then again, to load the pieces to be taken to the auction at the Crescent Hotel on I-17 & Dunlap Avenue. This crew of DPS employees and family waited with glass cleaner and towels to dust the pieces off after being in storage for more than a month, getting ready for the silent auction. Also involved were the DPS Explorers, you kids are great! The silent art auction netted more than $25,000!
By May 23, 1997, the committee had achieved a huge overtaking. Since Artist Nebeker was given the first installment to begin work on the statue due to the success of the silent art auction, we now knew the Monument/Statue was a reality. It was on its way to become something actual instead of hope and determination.
Another major event to raise funds for the monument/memorial was a motorcycle run scheduled for September 28, still with much work and planning to be done. T-Shirts promoting the motorcycle rally, a barbecue, and donations for door prizes and food for the event were coordinated. Flyers about the rally were distributed at all major motorcycle dealerships, repair shops, and retail stores. “W” Steven Martin, arranged for the KNIX party bus, the grill for the food and music to be at the finality of the rally. Cost to attend this rally was $25 per person. Those wanting to donate but not ride were encouraged to come to the event at the rest area which was the meeting/stopping point, the rally ended at the Bob Martin monument rest area on the Beeline Highway. Governor Mofford was our honorary attendee and had donated numerous items for the event. We had received word from the DPS Retirees Coalition, Retired Major Ernie Johnson that they were going to donate another $1,000 to the fund. Assignments were given:
By the November 20, 1997 meeting the committee was in the final stages of the location for the statue. This is when the location changed and the statue and monument walls would be at the South Entrance of the DPS building. Originally it was to be set at the entrance to the North Security Office by the two round brick planters you see when you walk into the building. The design of the monument walls was decided regarding the placement of a DPS Star and Patch on either wall. The wall height had not been decided at this time but it was noted they will be required to be of a height comfortable to the viewing of the brass plaques honoring our fallen officers. The memorial brass plates of those killed in the line of duty will display the officer’s name on the first line, rank and badge number on the second line and the date of “end of watch” on the third line. DPS Detective Ken Nelson was tasked to obtain prices of the plaques as decided. On the front of the monument statue at the base of the monument the tribute will be written, “To Officers Past – A Tribute, To Officers Present… The artist’s name, committee and honorary members’ names will be on the back of the base. Fritz Renter and Vickie Dail (Toll) were assigned the verbiage for the dedication letter. Frank Shankwitz had arranged for a crane to be comped for the placement of the statue. Votes were taken as to whom would be kept on as committee and honorary members. Considerations were based on commitment and participation. The second auction was discussed and Sgt. Whalen noted that it had cost approximately $5,000 to hold the first auction. The second auction was put on hold.
The meeting on February 5, 1998 finalized measurements for the base of the statue, the finish for the memorial walls and word that DPS Facilities agreed for us to have two memorial walls, one displaying the DPS Shoulder Patch and the other with the DPS Star. It was reported at this meeting the committee received $5,000 from the Mens Art Council and $1,000 from Copperstate. Here we decided the unveiling of the statue and the ceremony would be held on May 7, at 1000 hours at the site of the statue. To honor the families of DPS fallen officers, the AHPA would host a “Survivors luncheon” where committee and honorary members would attend after the dedication ceremony. The ceremony, wreath, flowers, refreshments and programs are all at the expense of the AHPA. The Survivor’s Luncheon has become an annual event sponsored solely by the AHPA, taking place after the ceremonies at headquarters, where there are good times and good food to enjoy while taking time to enjoy visiting with our surviving families.
The target date for the actual setting of the statue was April 14, 2008. Office Coordinator Susan Snow presented a check for $400+ to Chairman Bill Whalen collected from District 14 (now Metro West/Sun City office). She and Whalen challenged other districts to match their donation.
Invitations were being sent out to survivors’ family, honorary members, contributors and donators to name a few to announce the dedication of the memorial. A balance of $41,692 was in the monument/memorial account and $21,000 was due to Artist Nebeker.
The committee had raised a total of $90,400 in funds as of this date, February 5, 1998.
There were many more aspects of finalizing the base and walls of the statue but probably to not much interest as it is only of pigment of the stucco, time lines, etc. Vickie Dail (Toll) was sending out invitations and letters for the ceremony as well as coordinating the luncheon and site for the Survivor luncheon. Survivor families, government entities, private donators, corporate donators and honorary members all were invited to attend the ceremony. A program for the ceremony had to be created as well as coordination of the ceremony. A fly over by Aviation was done, bagpipers, flowers, refreshments, tents for attendees, chairs ……… the list went on and on, and thanks to all the committee members jumping in with both feet, doing what ever was necessary for our first ceremony and thanks to them it went very well.
From the time when Frank Shankwitz brought the idea to the AHPA and the first meetings beginning in 1995 to the final dedication ceremony in May 1998 for the creation of the Monument/Memorial, there were numerous amounts of concerns and obstacles, along with many moments of feeling we may be defeated, regardless of the dedication by the committee to make the monument/memorial happen. There were ideas discussed, brain storming meetings for obtaining funds that are not a part of this article because the article would become a book. Any body who has taken on an enormous project such as we did with the statue and memorial having a price tag of $100,000+, certainly knows how difficult it is especially starting from ground zero. Many times these types of projects have to be scrapped not because there are no true heartfelt feelings for the desire of the project but because fundraising regardless of how good the cause. If it weren’t for every single committee and honorary member, the AHPA supporting every single idea and event and standing behind this project to the fullest, I being a part of almost every meeting believe the monument and memorial walls would not be standing today; had it not been for the AHPA and its dedicated honorary and committee members, but especially those DPS employees who wrote $10, $20 checks, and the private entities who were major funding sources to see the statue/memorial built, the project would have been scrapped. Those of us can be proud because when we had the chance to give — we did.
And to our Honorary Members who lent their knowledge and support to us, and allowing us to use their names in support of fundraising. Each and every honorary member gave their all. Many today still come to the annual ceremony here at headquarters every May. Simply put — but with all sincerity, thank you.
Governor Rose Mofford
Mr. Eddie Basha
W. Steven Martin
Arizona DPS Retirees Coalition
Robert E. Schoneberger
Thomas S. Jonovich
Senator John Kaites
Representative Wesley Marsh, Jr.
Arizona Highway Patrolman’s Association (now AZTroopers – Arizona State Troopers Association)
To everyone at the Department, I encourage you to stop and take a moment to look at the statue, walk around the base and take note of the artist’s work, handcrafting and the tribute to our officers, and also the memorial walls that show honor and love to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
To Officers Past – A Tribute
To Officers Present – A Reminder
To Officers Yet to Come – A Legacy
You ARE Arizona’s finest!
Note: AZTroopers maintains an Officer Memorial/Monument account used exclusively for the maintenance of the statue and memorial walls. For example funds in this account have been used to have all the bronze cleaned on both the statue and memorial wall plaque. Anyone who would like to donate to the account to maintain the memorial can do so.