Artist’s rendering causes concern over Hutchinson law enforcement memorial

Local

The Hutchinson Chief of Police says the final position of the officer for a law enforcement memorial statue has not been determined. This is an artist’s rendering that was shown at the Hutchinson City Council meeting, April 20, 2021.(Courtesy City of Hutchinson City Council Agenda Packet)

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) — The Hutchinson chief of police wants to assure the public that the statue for the city’s law enforcement memorial will not be in a kneeling position.

Chief Jeffery Hooper is responding to concern from the community after an artist’s rendering was shown at the Hutchinson City Council meeting Tuesday. In the rendering, the officer is kneeling on one knee.

“There has been concern expressed from members of the community that the image of a kneeling officer is offensive and at the very least ‘tone deaf’ given the current culture,” Hooper said in a news release. “I very much understand and agree with these concerns.”

Hooper says the police department and the City of Hutchinson’s Art Design Council have been working for several months on the artwork that will accompany the remodel of the Law Enforcement Center. Hooper wants a memorial to the officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.

He says the memorial/artwork will be the first thing people see when they visit the Law Enforcement Center and he wants it to give people the feeling that the police department is a safe, welcoming place.

During the city council meeting Tuesday, several slides and photos were shown of an artist’s work. Part of the presentation included the artist’s rendering of the kneeling officer.

“This was the artist interpretation and in no way was the final statue,” Hooper said. “The final position of the officer for the statue had not and still has not been determined.”

He said the police department and the Art Design Council will work closely with the artist to develop a final rendering for a statue. “As the Chief of Police, I will state that the final positioning of the statue will not be in a kneeling position,” Hooper said.

Over the last 24 hours, Hooper says he has been meeting with David Sotelo, the city’s human relations officer, who has communicated with the Human Relations Commission.

They have heard the concerns. Hooper says Sotelo will sit on the sub-committee and represent the community’s concerns as the committee works on the final design for the statue.

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