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L.A. plans to install street signs honoring fallen police officers

Fallen officers are 'no longer with us in the flesh, but they will never leave us,' police chief says
Los Angeles will install 207 street signs remembering police officers killed in the line of duty

As the Los Angeles Police Department reels from back-to-back deaths of officers in recent weeks, city officials unveiled a plan Thursday to install hundreds of street signs to honor those who have died in the line of duty.

Since the department's inception, 207 officers have made the "ultimate sacrifice," Mayor Eric Garcetti said at an event marking Police Memorial Week.

As a joint project between the Police Department, the L.A. Department of Transportation and city officials, 207 signs will be put up at intersections near where the officers were killed. For those who died outside the city, their signs will be installed near the officer's police station, the downtown administration building or the Elysian Park Academy grounds.

"As we drive through the city, we don't just curse the traffic or worry about being late," Garcetti said, "but we pause and remember."

The signs will be created and installed over the next six months. The first went up earlier this week at 2nd and Main streets in downtown. It commemorates Officer Edward Wilhoit, who was shot four times and killed in 1924 by a suspect carrying a concealed weapon.

A recent string of officer deaths gave special significance to Thursday's event. The young daughter of an officer who died this year led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

"This year's commemoration comes at an especially poignant moment when we've lost not just one, not just two, but three members of our LAPD family," Garcetti said.

The flags flew at half-staff Saturday for the third death of an LAPD officer in a traffic collision in the last two months, 32-year-old LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez.

Last month, motorcycle Officer Chris Cortijo died from injuries he suffered after he was hit from behind by a woman suspected of being under the influence of drugs. In March, Officer Nicholas Lee was killed when an out-of-control truck struck the patrol car he was driving.

Each sign that goes up will have a number that the public will be able to use on a memorial website to learn more about how the officer died. People will also be able to leave video tributes, letters, poems and photographs to commemorate the officer's sacrifice. The website has not yet launched.

"Each day, we as Angelenos walk past certain locations, and we may not know there were sacrifices made there by people who represent them," LAPD Cmdr. Richard Webb said.

The Police Department researched for months to confirm the exact locations of officers' deaths, consulting with the Los Angeles Police Museum.

City Councilman Mitch Englander, whose staff helped with the project, said it gives the city a formal way to recognize each officer who has died in the line of duty.

"Those people who lost their lives should always be in our hearts and in our minds," he said.

The first L.A. police officer killed was Clyde May in February 1907. He was shot while trying to arrest a robbery suspect.

"They're no longer with us in the flesh, but they will never leave us," LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday.

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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