Statement by Shirley Gibson
On February 5, 1997, the city lost a dedicated police officer, the officers lost a co-worker and partner, and some lost a best friend. I lost my son.
Master Patrol Officer Brian Gibson was murdered in a marked cruiser, in full uniform, at a red light while calling in a suspicious tag number. He was an outstanding MPD officer, on duty in the District of Columbia, when he was killed. Our family was devastated, not only by Brian’s death, but by the senselessness of his death. I found working through my grief and loss with the families of other fallen officers, gave me the strength that lead to the path of healing. I, with the help of the parents of Officer Oliver Smith, Jr. and the mother of Officer James McGee, Jr. founded the first DC Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors in our city.
I eventually became the first parent to be National President of COPS, representing over 15,000 families across the country at the time. As President, I flew all over the country, and was always picked up by law enforcement officers. One of the first things they’d say after meeting me was “If you have time, we’d really like for you to see our fallen officers’ memorial.” The pride they felt in how they had honored their officers killed in the line of duty was always evident, but left me feeling sad and thinking our officers and their families deserve a better memorial than we have. How could our department, our city, the Nation’s Capital, not do more to honor our fallen officers than the deteriorating fountain that most of the city doesn’t realize is the memorial to our officers who sacrificed their lives.
There are those who will ask “Why do we need a memorial when the National Wall is only a couple of blocks away”? I tell them I’m extremely proud that my son’s name is included with the thousands of names of officers from all over the country, but he died in his cruiser, in his own city, in the 4th District where he worked and patrolled the streets. He, and every other officer who died while keeping our city safe, deserve to be honored with a memorial that in a city filled with monuments and memorials that belong to our Nation and the world, would be one for our city, for our own Police Department, and more importantly, one the families could be proud of.
Let’s make this happen!