North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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May 12, 2014

Fultondale Police officer helps remember fallen heroes

FULTONDALE — A Fultondale police officer is working to honor fallen brothers and sisters in his field.

After prompting from a local resident who noticed important names missing on the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Memorial, Officer Jim Henderson is organizing a ceremony at the site on Saturday.

Fultondale Police Officer David Wayne Riddlesperger’s name will be added to the memorial, along with Mary Freeman Smith of the Fairfield Police Department, Geoffrey W. G. Stone of the Vestavia Police Department and Preston Boyd Parnell of the U.S. Postal Service.

Riddlesperger died in October 2011 of a medical condition; the other individuals to be added to the memorial also died while serving.

Henderson worked with Riddlesperger for about two years, after retiring from the Birmingham Police Depart­ment as a sergeant in 2009. He has been with the Fultondale department since then.

In addition to working as an officer, Henderson volunteers with the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), an organization that provides support for the families and loved ones of police officers killed in the line of duty.

He got involved in COPS after attending a Christmas dinner where “for two hours, every 15 minutes, I had mothers, kids and wives of dead cops coming and telling me their stories,” he said. “These families needed a connection to their lost loved one, and that was me. I was emotionally drained, but I was hooked.”

A survivor will be one of the guest speakers at Saturday’s ceremony. “It’s all about the cops and their families,” Henderson said. “These families live with this every single day. The police departments move on. They put up a plaque and a picture, but the families live through it every day.”

The ceremony will feature posting of the colors and a 21-gun salute by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, bagpipe music by Jeff Jones and the laying of a wreath.

The memorial is Saturday, 8:30 a.m., at the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Memorial at 801 Richard Arrington Blvd. If it rains, the ceremony will be held in the jury assembly room on the second floor of the parking deck. 

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