Shrine honoring fallen officers will be unveiled Monday at Triton
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Eight Cook County Sheriff's Police officers killed in the line of
duty will be remembered Monday when a shrine memorializing their
sacrifice is unveiled after years of research and planning.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, along with families of the eight
officers, will dedicate the shrine Monday at 11 a.m. in the auditorium
at Triton College in River Grove, according to a release from Dart's
Several of the officers were killed during traffic stops, while
one officer was shot by a man investigators later learned was headed to a
“contract killing” while the officer was investigating criminal
activity. Another was struck by a vehicle while conducting surveillance
work, the release said.
The dates of their service spans from the 1930s -- when the department
was known as the Cook County Highway Police, a name it kept until the
1950s -- to 2006, the release said.
The display is the culmination of years of research and outreach
by several sheriff's officers who located surviving family members to
ensure all eight officers were properly recognized for their sacrifice,
the release said. Some relatives even located rare photos of the
officers, which they shared with the shrine's planners.
“It is an honor to be able to pay these men the proper respect
they so richly deserve,” Dart said in the release. “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 shrine, an 8x10-foot cherry wood display, includes
placeholders for each of the officers and will permanently reside at the
entrance to the Cook County Sheriff's Police headquarters in Maywood,
the release said.
The shrine will feature a rendering of each officer and a description of
the circumstances of his death inscribed on 8x10-inch magnesium plate. A
sheriff's patch and star will accompany each officer's display,
according to the release.
The display is funded entirely by asset forfeiture funds, money
which has been seized from criminals arrested by sheriff's police
officers, according to the release.
The officers who will be recognized and their dates of death are:
• Sam Kaiser, April 20, 1930: Killed while attempting to stop a
speeding vehicle, Kaiser's motorcycle struck a utility pole near 79th
and Archer. Though never married, he was one of 10 children and many of
his family members remain in the area, while some relatives went on to
hold careers in law enforcement, including with the Chicago Police
Department. A great-nephew located the only known photo of Kaiser.
Relatives from Glendale Heights and Elgin will attend the ceremony and
represent the family.
• Fredrick Bryant, May 24, 1930: His motorcycle struck a ditch near
Higgins and River roads while he was attempting to stop a speeding
vehicle. The accident threw him off his motorcycle and he died. His wife
and two daughters have since died. His granddaughter, of Springfield,
and great niece, of Evanston, will attend the ceremony and represent the
• Meyer Joseph Jack LaPine, Sept. 5, 1932: He was killed in an
automobile accident at the intersection of Rand and Wolf roads, as he
was attempting to stop a speeding vehicle. Married, but with no
children, a nephew in Flossmoor located the only known photo of LaPine.
That nephew will attend the ceremony and represent the family.
• Robert (Ruby) Schanbaum, Aug. 11, 1934: Killed by a drunk driver as
he and his partner were issuing a speeding ticket to another driver on
Milwaukee Avenue. Married with two children, one of his children is
still living and currently resides in Texas, where the family re-located
after his death. Family members have yet to confirm attendance at this
• Frank Christian, Oct. 14, 1941: Killed by a drunk driver as
he was investigating a traffic accident at 79th and Harlem. Married with
two sons, both of his sons will attend the ceremony to represent their
family. Though young when their father was killed, both said they
continue to cherish the few memories they still have of him and shared
photos, as well as his star, in helping to plan the memorial. The sons
live in Brookfield and Matteson.
• John Rusnak, Aug. 3, 1977: His unmarked vehicle was struck from
behind by a truck while Rusnak was conducting surveillance. Married to
Sheriff's Police Officer Roberta Rusnak, they had two children,
including a son who is a correctional officer with the Cook County
Sheriff's Office. Family members from Bolingbrook and Riverside will
attend the ceremony.
• Michael Ridges, Oct. 17, 1985: While investigating criminal
activity in Prospect Heights, Ridges stopped three suspicious men when
he was shot and killed by one of those men – who investigators learned
were headed to a contract killing. Married with no children, he came
from a police family - his father and brother worked for the Chicago
Police Department. A K-9 with the Sheriff's Department is named after
him. His parents, widow, brother and sister will come from Northwest
Indiana, Naperville and Palos Hills for the ceremony.
• James Knapp, Jan. 4, 2006: Killed in a motor vehicle
accident during poor weather conditions at the intersection of 100th
Place and 76th Avenue in Bridgeview. He was married to now-retired Cook
County Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Grace Knapp. She and his two sons from a
previous marriage, all coming from Lynwood and Northwest Indiana, will