Local News

DOT Removes Roadside Memorial For Fallen Officer

Posted September 12, 2002

— There is added debate over roadside memorials.

The Raleigh Police Department Family Support Group said it wanted to pay tribute to Officer Charles Paul, who died Tuesday when his motorcycle crashed on the beltline. However, the group's memorial does not agree with a Department of Transportation safety policy.

Members of the family support group built a wooden sign and posted it where the officer died. Officer Paul lost control of his motorcycle while pursuing a speeder, and crashed into a guardrail on the inner beltline.

"The symbol is to mainly reflect a memorial for Officer Paul and what he did and what he sacrificed," said Laura Privette, a family support group member.

The family support group added balloons and a shirt to the roadside memorial. A few minutes later, two others showed up and placed a wreath and signed a commemorative cross.

The family support group said it was just paying tribute to a fallen officer, but the DOT has a different take, saying the tribute is a safety hazard.

"My concern is if you do something to memorialize along the highway, maybe you draw someone's attention away from the roadway, away from some of the other traffic and maybe that creates another accident," said Jon Nance, DOT division engineer.

The state Board of Transportation recently passed a policy making roadside memorials illegal.

"It is not a big hazard. It's just a sign the size of a construction sign. It's not meant to block any view whatsoever. It's just a memorial at the place where Officer Paul died," Privette said.

DOT crews removed the sign about four hours after it went up. The workers said they were just doing their job; the support group said its job was to honor a fallen officer.

The DOT said it will make sure the support group gets its memorial sign back.

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