Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Student seeks honor for officer

'58 gunfight caused death

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Newport High School senior Mike Brown one day hopes to be a police officer, but for now he's hoping the city will honor one of its fallen officers with a plaque near the World Peace Bell.

        He addressed city commission Monday night and asked if the city would erect a memorial to Stanley “Tex” Pitakos, who was killed in a gunfight at 4th and York streets, now the site of the World Peace Bell, in 1958.

        The request comes at an appropriate time. Each year, this week is set aside across the nation to honor police officers killed on duty. Police departments across the Tristate are holding memorial ceremonies for fallen officers.

        “Officer Pitakos was a World War II combat veteran who eventually gave his life protecting his own community,” the Newport student said. “He grew up here and attended Newport High School. I feel the city should show their gratitude for his sacrifice.”

        He said he learned about Mr. Pitakos' death — in a gun battle with Roosevelt Dawson of Cincinnati who was accused of having just robbed a pawnshop — from his grandfather, former Newport firefighter Melvin Whisner. Mr. Dawson was killed by other police officers.

        “I told my counselors at school about it, and we finally came up with the idea of a memorial to Officer Pitakos,” the 17-year-old senior said. “The location is impor tant, because it's where he died and it's the location of a monument to peace.”

        Commission members thanked Mike for his idea and promised to consider it, but made no commitment.

        America averages more than 150 officer deaths a year, according to officials with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C.

        Covington Assistant Police Chief Thomas Schonecker said the memorializing of dead officers — combined with the growth in citizen-oriented police programs in recent years — has enhanced relationships between law enforcement departments and the public.

        “The community and police are working more closely. We have a citizens academy, citizens neighborhood watch and police ride-along programs. All three programs bring citizens and police together,” said Mr. Schonecker.

        Covington Police, and other Northern Kentucky law-enforcement officers, will gather at 10 a.m. Thursday for their annual ceremony at the Covington memorial.

        The Cincinnati Police Division will commemorate its fallen with a march Friday at noon from Fountain Square to the police memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive.


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