Even decades after their tragic deaths, eight Cook
County sheriff's police officers killed in the line of duty are far from
Today, the sheriff's office will honor the men with the
dedication of a permanent display.
It is the result of years of planning, said a spokesman
for the sheriff's office.
The memorial will be unveiled at 11 a.m. today at Triton
College in River Grove by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. He will be
joined by relatives of the eight officers, some of whom worked for the
Cook County Highway Police, as the unit was known until the 1950s.
"It is an honor to be able to pay these men the proper
respect they so richly deserve," Dart said. "Their families deserve to
know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and the place each of the
officers will forever hold within our department."
The officers honored died as recently as 2006 and as
long ago as 1930. Their deaths were caused by everything from homicide
to driving in poor weather conditions. Two were killed by drunken
drivers and one, Investigator Michael W. Ridges, was shot to death while
conducting surveillance in Prospect Heights.
The memorial will consist of an 8x10-foot cherry wood
display including placeholders for each of the officers. It will be
permanently displayed at the entrance to the Cook County Sheriff's
Police headquarters in Maywood.
Each of the eight officers will have a 15 x 20-inch
display in the cabinet, including a sketch of the officer, a description
of how they died, and a sheriff's patch and star.
The memorial will be paid for entirely with money seized
from criminals over the years by sheriff's police.
The officers and their dates of death are:
• Sam Kaiser, April 20, 1930. He was killed while trying
to stop a speeding vehicle. His motorcycle hit a utility pole near 79th
• Fredrick Bryant, May 24, 1930. Bryant's motorcycle
struck a ditch near Higgins and River roads as he tried to stop a
• Meyer Joseph Jack LaPine, Sept. 5, 1932. LaPine was
killed in a car crash at Rand and Wolf roads, as he tried to stop a
• Robert (Ruby) Schanbaum, Aug. 11, 1934. He was killed
by a drunken driver as he and his partner were giving a speeding ticket
to another driver on Milwaukee Avenue.
• Frank Christian, Oct. 14, 1941. He was killed by a
drunken driver as he was investigating a traffic accident at 79th and
• John Rusnak, Aug. 3, 1977. Rusnak's unmarked vehicle
was hit by a truck while Rusnak was conducting surveillance.
• Michael Ridges, Oct. 17, 1985. He was investigating
criminal activity in Prospect Heights when he stopped three men, one of
whom shot and killed him.
At the time, Ridges was investigating a series of
vandalism incidents when he noticed the car. He called in a description
of the car before stopping it. While Ridges was checking their
identities, one man drew a concealed gun and shot Ridges in the head.
The suspects were caught a short time later based on Ridges' original
radio description, according to Officer Down Memorial Page Inc.
Police later determined the men were en route to commit a
contract murder in Prospect Heights. One was sentenced to life in
prison and a second was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Prospect Heights already has a memorial to Ridges, at
Izaak Walton Park.
• James Knapp, Jan. 4, 2006. Knapp was killed in a car
crash during bad weather at the intersection of 100th Place and 76th
Avenue in Bridgeview.
The men are profiled at www.odmp.org/agency/5282-cook-county-sheriffs-police-department-illinois.
The site contains reflections about each officer.
One particularly poignant reflection about Ridges was
given by retired sheriff's Cmdr. La'Chom D. Madison. He wrote, "I
remember the last time we met as you had just been assigned to the
investigations section. You were extremely happy and proud to become an
He continued, "I also remember that day when driving
into Maybrook, I received a call to respond to a shooting in the
Heights, and upon arrival was told it was you. We lost a wonderful
person that day who had many things to give to others. Mike should be a
inspiration to all young officers starting the job. As he was a good cop
and an even better man."