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Memorial stone to recognize deceased Amherst police officers

Every year, as Memorial Day approaches, members of the Amherst Police Department visit the local grave sites of former officers to salute them.

They place a flag at each grave, held in place by a bronze medallion, along with a box of flowers.

Now the Amherst Police Relief Association plans to honor these individuals in a more public way with a large granite memorial now being installed at the front entrance of the police station at 111 Main St. It will note officers who were members of the department for 15 or more years. There are 14 officers in that category.

“This will be something for the public to appreciate the efforts of the men and women who have done the job before us,” said John Chudzik, the officer and association member spearheading the effort.

But there is also a practical consideration, as the number of departed officers will inevitably grow over time. “It will be increasingly cumbersome to visit all the graves,” Chudzik said.

The memorial stone, being made by the Athol Granite Works office in Amherst, will names in chronological order of the officer’s deaths. Carved at the top of the stone are the words “Amherst Police Relief Association Departed Members” and a replica police badge with the letters “APRA” in place of the badge number.

The cost for the project is $4,245, which includes purchasing the stone, and its design, carving and installation, Chudzik said. It is being paid for through interest from the association’s account, which is exclusively for funerals, death benefits and remembrances.

Installation of the stone coincides with a move that will give a more prominent place for a tribute plaque to former Police Chief Francis Hart. That plaque, which was donated by the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts, had been on the department’s grounds closer to the Main Street entrance to the parking lot. The DPW moved the plaque and its pedestal to an area adjacent to where the memorial stone will sit.

Chudzik said he expects the stone to be in place in late October or early November, after the recently poured concrete platform is cured. A ceremony will be scheduled, with invited guests to include families of the departed officers along with retired officers. Police Chief Scott Livingstone and town officials are expected to speak.

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