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TPD, UA create police memorial

Photo courtesy UA School of Landscape Architecture
Landscape architecture graduate student Jennifer Jones designed the 'Patterns of Protection' Tucson Police Department Memorial Plaza, which is slated to be complete by May. The plaza will include an amphitheater where an annual memorial event will be held for National Police Week.
By Jesse Lewis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 7, 2005
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A graduate student will see her class work come to life next year after the Tucson Police Department chose her design for their fallen officers' memorial plaza.

Jennifer Jones, a landscape architecture graduate student, designed the "Patterns of Protection" TPD Memorial Plaza, 270 N. Stone Ave. Her design was chosen out of her 16 classmates' designs for the same project.

The plaza, which will be completed in May, will honor seven TPD officers who have been killed in the line of duty, along with other memorials private citizens and businesses can purchase, said Chris Miller, TPD officer and executive board member of the Tucson Police Officers Association.

Jones said she integrated the weavelike design of the Kevlar used in officers' bulletproof vests to create her theme of "Patterns of Protection."

The trees in the courtyard area of the plaza weave in and out of gabions, which are metal weaves that hold back rock and soil to protect an area of land.

"The Kevlar material is very emotional for (officers)," said Lauri Macmillan Johnson, associate professor in the School of Landscape Architecture. "It creates a symbol very powerful to the police force - they use that material all the time."

Macmillan Johnson, who taught the Design Studio 3 class that submitted the designs, said the assignment was a community outreach project that gives students an opportunity to create something that might be constructed while they are still in school.

"They do something good that benefits the community," Macmillan Johnson said. "It makes them feel like what they are doing won't just sit on a shelf and disappear."

The plaza will include an amphitheater where the annual memorial event will be held for National Police Week, Macmillan Johnson said.

The week honors all peace officers and includes National Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15, which was made a public law by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

There will also be wide stairs at the entrance to welcome and lead visitors, a memorial garden with a water feature meant to reduce noise from South Stone Avenue and an arbor with informal seating under the shade of interweaving trees and gabions, according to Jones' plans.

A statue was funded by an $82,500 federal grant, which is half the price of the total plaza, and a national search for an artist was initiated and 35 applications were received by the foundation, Miller said.

The foundation chose local sculptor Judith Stewart, who designed a female figure that could represent a mother or sister of an officer or a female officer; visitors are encouraged to draw their own conclusions, Miller said.

"(With a local artist) it really ties in to a hometown kind of atmosphere," Miller said.

The original plan the foundation selected would have cost $1.2 million, but it was reworked until it came to a total cost of about $170,000, Miller said.

The Tucson Police Foundation donated $30,000, and TPD donated $30,000 to the project to apply toward construction costs. More money was raised with the purchase of memorial pavers or "Inscriptions of Inspiration," Miller said.

Jones said, along with other local architects and planners, she is donating her time to the project rather than being compensated because funds for the plaza are limited.

The plaza will have a specified memorial for the seven TPD officers who died, but members of the public can purchase the pavers to dedicate to a person of their choice, such as honoring a family member who is or was a police officer, Miller said.

Police officers who have died off duty and were not recognized by the department will be recognized by this memorial.

"If an officer, God forbid, commits suicide, the department doesn't recognize him, even if he served for years," Miller said. "Those with tragedies in their own lives don't get memorialized, and we don't want to exclude anyone."

The memorial plaque, featured in the Memorial Garden, will include the names of the officers who died in the line of duty. A memorial stone, also in the garden, will pay homage to officers who died off duty or of other causes, according to the plaza's plans.

"People can really understand how (police) put their necks on the line for us every day," Macmillan Johnson said. "I don't think the community understands that."

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