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Michigan lawmakers fund monument to fallen police officers

A long-awaited monument to Michigan police officers who've died in the line of duty could be erected in downtown Lansing as early as fall 2019 after lawmakers put up the last dollars needed to break ground.

Lawmakers set aside $1.2 million in the 2019 state government budget for the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument, the last dollars needed for a project that's been in the works since 2004. Gov. Rick Snyder has yet to sign the budget but is expected to do so.

The project could break ground as early as spring 2019 and be wrapped up six months later, said Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. The commission that oversees the project is expected to meet this week with the monument's designers, he said.

The monument is planned near the corner of West Allegan Street and South Butler Boulevard, near the Michigan Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the lawn of the Hall of Justice.

Nearly 600 Michigan police officers, sheriff's deputies, corrections officers and other law enforcement officials have died in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks line-of-duty deaths nationwide. The most recent was 25-year-old Detroit police officer Darren Weathers, who died Feb. 13 in a car crash during a training exercise.

The 2019 allocation ends an odyssey more than a dozen years in the making. The project got underway with much fanfare, earning a visit in 2006 from then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry. But, fundraising was stymied by the Great Recession and other issues and the commission was forced to scale back the scope of the monument.

The project has picked up more steam in recent years, including a $100,000 pledge from Delta Dental in January 2017.

The commission will continue to raise funds for upkeep of the monument after it's built, Buhs said.

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