WAYZATA, Minn. (KMSP) - The City of Wayzata broke ground Friday for a memorial to fallen officers, a tribute officials suddenly had to expand before the project even got started.
“Very few cities our size have lost two policeman in the course of about 35 years,” said Wayzata Mayor Ken Willcox.
A committee of community members convened two years ago, originally aimed to better honor Sgt. James Anderson, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1982.
“What we could not have imagined was that just three days after we approved the funding for that memorial, Wayzata Police Officer Bill Mathews was struck and killed by an impaired and distracted driver,” said Johanna McCarthy of the Wayzata City Council.
The crash on Highway 12 made Officer Mathews the second officer in the small department killed in the line of duty. City funding for the memorial was increased from $50,000 to $75,000 and redesigned to include Mathews. His wife Shawn and eight-year-old son Wyatt were reminded once again of the support they continue to receive.
“It’s a place we’ll always be able to go together and know that Bill is still a part of this community,” said Shawn Mathews.
Chief Mike Risvold envisions the memorial outside City Hall to be more than a tribute to Wayzata police officers, but a way to honor everyone wearing a badge.
“You hear it said over and over again, we’ll never forget,” said Chief Risvold. “This is another way for us to know and the community to know we won’t forget. People will see this, future generations who didn’t know Bill or James Anderson and they will be able to read about their sacrifice. That’s how we’ll keep the memory alive.”
Breaking ground on the project continues the healing for Mathews family and friends.
“I think a place where people can go to feel some solitude and maybe some gratitude for what we have will be wonderful,” said Mathews.
The goal is to have the memorial completed by Police Week this coming spring.