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New Memorial Honors Fallen Officers

 

A new memorial plaza with a shiny flag-draped stone monument was recently unveiled in front of the Lewiston Police Department.

With reverence, bowed heads and a 21-gun salute, Lewiston police paid tribute to their fallen counterparts. A polished stone monument draped with an American flag and honoring the badge of the Lewiston Police Department lists the names of five officers who died in the line of duty.

Lewiston Police Chief Steven Orr told the crowd of more than 200 that each of the five officers exhibited the highest standards of law enforcement.

“Their legacy of courage and their sacrifice will always stand as foundations for the Lewiston Police Department,” Orr said. “We will never forget.”

The names of Harold J. Mossman, Gordon A. Harris, Ralph T. Russell, Edward E. Davis and Ross D. Flavel are written at the rear of the monument. Relatives of Davis and Russell unveiled the memorial. A family member of Mossman also attended the ceremony.

The phrase “long overdue” was peppered throughout Orr’s speech. The families of all five men have endured such grief and loss, and Orr said officers were eternally indebted to the families for all they have given.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 28 years,” Orr said, “Without question, this is the proudest moment of my career.”

The region’s law enforcement officers joined Lewiston for the occasion, as did the Boise Police Department pipe and drum band.

Retired Lewiston Officer Willie Russell, brother of slain Officer Ralph Russell, was among the first to donate to the project. The police department’s active and retired staff helped fund the memorial, as well as what Orr called “seed money” from ATK. Their contributions also funded benches and an adjacent fountain.

“It’s overdue, and it’s nice,” Willie Russell said. “It’s really nice.”

Ralph Russell died in 1970 attempting to apprehend two federal fugitives. Willie Russell said he believes his brother would have “really appreciated” the memorial.

Officer Edward E. Davis’ daughter Heidi White said she planned to come often to the Lewiston memorial to pay her respects. Each of the officers is also honored at the Idaho Peace Officers memorial in Meridian, but the Lewiston monument is closer to her home in Tigard, OR, and a remembrance for her family of where Davis lived and worked. He died in 1971 of a heart attack while in a high-speed pursuit with a felony offender.

“It’s wonderful to be able to come back to the town that he served in and visit a memorial,” White said.

Mossman died in 1921, Harris in 1924, and Flavel in 1972.

“They were the heroes to those who were the victims of crime. They were our neighborhood protectors,” Orr said.

The event was six years in the making. Officer Monte Renzelman first pitched the idea in 2003 after witnessing a dirt mound that used to fill Rettig Plaza in front of the department’s headquarters.

“At that time, I just wanted to put something on that island,” Renzelman said, “but it just evolved and kept going.” He initially envisioned a plaque but said he was pleased with how the project evolved. “It’s awesome,” Renzelman said. “It takes my breath away, there’s nothing words can do for how it turned out.”

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2009

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