A stone memorial for law enforcement officers on Riverwalk Augusta has 31 names engraved on it, and two more will be added next week, including the sheriff’s deputy killed Sunday.
The Robert Forsyth Memorial is located below the Heroes Overlook at 10th Street. Dedicated to Augusta’s first law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in 1794, the memorial lists the names of all Augusta-area officers who died in the line of duty since then.
“Honor, bravery and an indomitable spirit is the very essence of a law enforcement officer,” the granite marker says.
John Padgett, the founder and CEO of Law Enforcement Angels Foundation Inc., said Richmond County sheriff’s deputies Eric Sikes, who died in a traffic accident in 2007, and James D. Paugh, who was shot to death Sunday, will be added to the list within the next week. No ceremony will be held for the name additions.
“We have learned that family members like to go down there and sit at the marker beside the river,” Padgett said. “So we like to keep it as private as possible for them.”
A ceremony is held every May during National Police Week at the memorial.
Padgett, a former supervisor at the Augusta Police Department who now trains security officers for the Columbia County school system, said he went to high school with Paugh and already has provided the information to the stone cutter to engrave on the memorial. Padgett pays for the engravings.
Padgett and Earl R. Bagley, another former Augusta police supervisor, co-founded the Law Enforcement Angels Foundation in 1994, primarily as a means to provide financial help to families of fallen officers.
“At that time, the state did not pay for funerals, and we helped the families with that and helped them to get professional counseling,” Padgett said.
They also got the support of former Police Chief Austin McLane and Richmond County Sheriff Charlie Webster to put up a memorial. The memorial features a large, granite angel standing atop a solid tablet with names engraved on both sides. There were 28 names when it first was made; now it has 31. Anyone who notices a name missing from the memorial may contact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, who will notify Padgett.
Padgett said the memorial has been knocked down by vandals twice and had to be repaired.
“It looked a lot better when it wasn’t glued together,” he said. “But I guess it’s like the law enforcement officers’ fight. They knock you down, but you keep getting back up.”
The city also has an online memorial to officers who died in the line of duty. It lists 35 officers with a brief description that includes the agency and dates they served and how they died.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., includes 26 names from Richmond County engraved on the 304-foot-long blue-gray marble wall. Names are added to that monument each spring in conjunction with National Police Week, according to the memorial’s Web site.