Nearly 100 people gathered outside of the Bel Air Police Department Sunday morning to dedicate a monument to the town's police officers that was proposed by a late deputy chief of the force.
When Deputy Chief Armand G. Dupre was dying, he told his wife, Karen Dupre, who also worked with the Bel Air Police Department, that he wanted to say something, to leave something behind in memory of all who have served the police department, Chief Leo Matrangola said.
"[Mr. Dupre] was really concerned about the guys," he said.
The memorial was dedicated Sunday morning among family, friends and police officers, in a flower bed outside of the main entrance to the police department at town hall.
It includes Mr. Dupre's signature, the time he served with Bel Air police and a quote he left them with:
"To the men and women who have faithfully served beside me at the Bel Air Police Department, may God bless and protect each and every one of you."
Mr. Dupre started with the department in September 1978 and served until his death last year on July 26. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2010 and went through several treatments and surgeries, but "couldn't beat it," Matrangola said Tuesday. Mr Dupre always thought he would be able to return to his position with the police department, Matrangola added.
His dedication to the police department was evident in the time he spent there. Matrangola said Mr. Dupre would arrive at 6:30 a.m. every morning and stay until 5:30 p.m., waiting until Matrangola left before leaving himself. Mr. Dupre was also a K-9 trainer and once trained a yellow Labrador retriever to become a protective dog, the chief said.
"He wasn't a lazy guy," Matrangola said. "He always wanted to do a little bit more."
Mr. Dupre's widow emphasized that the newly installed monument is for the men and women of the Bel Air Police Department. It is not in honor of the late deputy chief, but a memorial for all of them, Matrangola said. Karen Dupre also paid for the memorial and officers of the police department took two days to dig out the front area and create a flower bed.
For Matrangola, the monument dedication also gave him a chance to thank those who serve with the police department.
"It gave me an opportunity on Sunday to recognize the success of our officers," he said, adding that the community often expects "super cops" and the town force delivers.
"Without them, we wouldn't have the good image we have," Matrangola added.
The words on the monument, written by Mr. Dupre, were quite appropriate, as Matrangola said Mr. Dupre was always saying "God Bless you" to everyone at the office.