After 20 years, the Baltimore County Police Department is ditching its monument to fallen officers -- an inaccessible monolith that many deem unattractive -- and building a memorial in a more prominent spot in Towson.
The new structure honoring officers killed in the line of duty will be located on a grassy knoll in the heart of the county seat between the new and old courthouses. It will provide balance for a county firefighters memorial on the other side of a plaza between the buildings.
"It is a more appropriate setting" than the current location at Joppa Road and Goucher Boulevard, said police Capt. Ronald B. Schwartz, who has been involved in the planning. "People will at least recognize it and understand what the memorial is all about. There will be an ambience when we do memorial services."
Every May, the Police Department honors its four men who have been killed on duty:
* Officer Edward Kuznar, who died in an auto accident in 1969. He was 41 and had been on the force for 12 years.
* Officer Charles A. Huckeba, who was shot in 1977. He was 26 and had been a policeman for less than a year.
* Cpl. Samuel L. Snyder, who was shot in 1983 at age 71. He had been on the force for 30 years.
* Officer Robert W. Zimmerman, who was hit by a car in 1986. He was 46 and had served 18 years.
Although it has been 10 years since a policeman was killed in the county, "we had a couple who were very, very close," said Sgt. Kevin B. Novak, a police spokesman. "We are very fortunate. We realize that."
The design of the $80,000 monument, which will be granite, has not been made final, Captain Schwartz said. Groundbreaking is expected soon.
A fund-raising committee of police, business and community leaders has come up with much of the money for the memorial.
"We're close, but not there yet," Captain Schwartz said. "We're going for outside fund-raising sources, not taxpayers' dollars."
The Towson memorial will replace the monument at the busy corner of Joppa and Goucher. The black, monolithic structure often has been the subject of criticism since it was erected in 1975.
"It doesn't have much aesthetic appeal," said Wayne Skinner, a community activist who lives in nearby Loch Raven Village.
Because of the memorial's location at the congested intersection, which has no sidewalks, it was difficult to reach, Mr. Skinner said. "People can't walk to it easily or park near it. We could do better. It lacks something."
The structure will be dismantled, allowing the community and the county to landscape the plot.