A permanent tribute to Tarrant County law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty now stands on the west lawn of the historic 1895 Tarrant County courthouse.

The dedication for the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Memorial – a slab of pink granite on which a ring-shaped memorial featuring a Texas star and a bronze Tarrant County seal lies – was held Friday.

The memorial, which currently honors 16 fallen Tarrant County peace officers, is in the center of a wide walkway leading to the old courthouse’s west entrance.

The goal of this tribute was to create a place where the community could honor lost law enforcement officers.

“Tarrant County has always had a special place in its heart for those who protect us and keep us safe,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley.  “This memorial not only honors those individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice for Tarrant County, but it gives them and their families a place to be remembered.”

Whitley, Tarrant County Precinct 4 County Commissioner J.D. Johnson, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson and Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn all served on the Law Enforcement Memorial Committee.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Johnson said. “I’m certainly glad to see it finally being complete. A lot of people have worked on this and I’m very grateful to those that have. This is a project that I started 30-plus years ago.”

The idea to create a permanent memorial for fallen officers arose more than 20 years ago. Commissioner Johnson and former Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Tim Curry, the longest serving District Attorney in Tarrant County, were co-founders of the effort.

“We must always remember and honor those in law enforcement who gave their lives to protect Tarrant residents,” Wilson said. “We were blessed to have these officers who chose to serve. They will never be forgotten.”

For Waybourn, the memorial delivers on a promise to remember those who died in the line of duty.

“This memorial represents many things,” Waybourn said. “It celebrates 170 years of a great place to live because of those who came before us. It represents those who gave all to ensure that we continue to live here with liberty and freedom. We promised to remember these heroes and, with the completion of the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Memorial, we always will.”

The county asked its employees to submit designs for the memorial. Janice Pledger, an employee in the county’s Domestic Relations Office, came up with the winning idea. Then Fort Worth architect Michael Bennett turned Pledger’s idea into the memorial that exists today.

The budget for the project was $180,000 and was raised through donations

The first Tarrant peace officer to die was John B. York who was killed in August 1861.

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