Police Department Color Guard including Cpls. John McDonald (left), Don Farago, Jon Gersky and Dale Chadwick attend the unveiling of “The Protector” statue Monday morning.
TAYLOR — Well over 100 people showed up last week —some from as far as 100 miles away— for the unveiling of a bronze statue in front of the city’s police station.
To mark its 50th anniversary, Taylor Lodge 123 of the Fraternal Order of Police in 2007 commissioned the statue, called “The Protector,” and hosted a ceremony on Monday. The statue, which depicts a police officer holding the hand of a little girl, was delivered and installed the previous week.
“We didn’t want to do it as much as a memorial, but as a way to honor all of the officers that have come through here, past, present and future,” Cmdr. Daniel Crowell said.
He saw a similar statue in Holland, Mich., that he described as “kind of a moving piece”
and decided he wanted to try to see if Taylor could erect one as well.
“The community was overwhelmingly supportive of the idea,” Crowell said.
The statue was produced by Minnesota-based Brodin Studios, a company that specializes in military, police and fire statues and monuments. Because each statue is individualized and customized to the department it represents, the work now standing in Cameron G. Priebe Plaza depicts an officer wearing a Taylor uniform.
The Taylor FOP was the first donor to the fundraising campaign for the statue with a $10,000 contribution that was endorsed by the membership. Crowell said Lt. Mary Sclabassi played a vital role in keeping the campaign going during tough economic times.
He said the city’s Parks and Recreation “did a great job” with landscaping, and that some large local companies stepped up to help get the project done.
“A lot of fundraising efforts start out with good intentions but just don’t come to fruition,” Crowell said.
Founded by 14 police officers on Jan. 1, 1957, the FOP is a fraternal group made up of active and retired police officers of the city’s Police Department. Membership has grown to more than 400 active and associate members.
Lodge 123 also has helped many families during times of hardship. By hosting annual charity hockey games, the group has given away $12,000 to city students through the Taylor FOP Holly McGeogh Memorial Scholarship Fund.
In addition to being a fraternal organization for police officers, the FOP supports numerous charities and causes throughout the year.
“This statue will honor and symbolize the duty of the Taylor police officer to the residents of this city,” said Mayor Cameron Priebe, a former member of the department. “It will pay tribute to those who have come and gone and will challenge future officers to continue to strive for excellence and compassion for the citizens.”
Though the commissioned piece is a custom rendering of the modern day Taylor uniform, the statue’s badge number takes it back to the department’s earliest days. Retired Lt. Peter Toma, Badge No. 3, joined the force in 1951 and was the first president of the Taylor FOP.
The name tag on the officer, however, bears no name but simply says, “Friend.” It was decided that the word symbolizes part of the department’s mission to instill that value with the community and, in particular, with the children of the city.
Crowell said the FOP would like to recognize a number major contributors who donated $1,000 or more in funding or service toward the purchase of the new statue.
They include: the lodge itself, Fritz Enterprises, Huron Valley Steel Corp., Hancock Enterprises, Taylor Parks Apartments, Watson Engineering, Masco Corp., Taylor Civilian Pistol Club, Famous Dave’s restaurant, Chavis Tax & Accounting, Cooper Lighting, Taylor Community Credit Union, Zubor Buick, Howe Peterson Funeral Home, Telegraph Chrysler/Jeep, Gibraltar Trade Center, Century Dodge, Oakwood Heritage Hospital, Wal-Mart, Wade Trim Associates, Voran Funeral Home, Taylor Ford, FOP Associate Lodge No.123, Cassino Construction, Crowell and family, Joe Persiconi and family, Robert McDonald and family, Randy and Christine Fritz, Lt. Peter Toma and family, E.C. “Chuck” Barth, Florence Barth and former Taylor Township Supervisor Willard Koths.