Foundation honors late Grosse Pointe Farms police officer

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 12, 2019

 This display in the hallway of the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department honors fallen police officer Kenneth Pine, who was killed on the job by a drunken driver in 1975.

This display in the hallway of the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department honors fallen police officer Kenneth Pine, who was killed on the job by a drunken driver in 1975.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — St. Patrick’s Day 1975 was just an ordinary day for Grosse Pointe Farms Police Department officer Kenneth Gordon Pine. The 30-year-old Pine, who had been with the department for five years, was conducting a traffic investigation in the area of Mack Avenue and Elizabeth Court around 10:20 p.m. March 17.

But as he was about to exit his patrol car, an intoxicated motorist struck him with enough force to send him flying into the road. Pine reportedly sustained multiple fractures, severe head injuries and internal bleeding, and although he was taken immediately to a nearby St. John Hospital for treatment, he died just hours after the accident. Police said the woman who hit him fled the scene but was arrested soon afterward in Grosse Pointe Woods; she was later convicted of negligent homicide.

Pine, who was also a U.S. Air Force veteran, was survived by his wife, two stepdaughters, his sister and his mother. He had been given a Medal of Valor in the Farms for rescuing a woman from Lake St. Clair, among other awards.

Pine, who wore badge No. 17, was the only member of the Farms Police Department — and later, the Farms Public Safety Department — to have been killed in the line of duty. And while it has been almost 44 years since his tragic death and the officers he once worked alongside have long since retired, Pine’s memory is being kept alive by the department today.

In conjunction with the nonprofit Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation, the Farms Public Safety Department put up a memorial sign on July 21, 2018, near the scene of the accident. The sign shares information about Pine and the events of that terrible day.

“Hopefully it will bring some light to what happened,” said Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation Treasurer Mark Laquere, a public safety officer in the Farms.

In March 2018, the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation started its Memorial Marker campaign to honor officers who died in the line of duty. Signs telling the stories of these officers and their deaths are installed at the sites where they were killed. According to the foundation’s website, the signs cost $80 apiece, and donations for these memorials are welcome.

Rose was a Wayne State University Police Department officer and member of the K-9 team who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 23, 2016. The markers are just one of the foundation’s projects. Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation Board President Chris Powell said Rose was active in efforts to honor fallen public safety personnel.

“We wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t something (Rose) wouldn’t have put his weight behind,” Powell said. “It’s important to recognize those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Powell, who lives in Grosse Pointe Woods, said he drives by the intersection where Pine died all the time. He felt strongly that the Farms officer deserved a memorial.

“It breaks my heart,” Powell said he remembers thinking as he passed the intersection of Mack and Elizabeth. “There needs to be something here.”

The signs aren’t flashy — just white lettering on a deep blue background.

“We’ve tried to do it in a tasteful and respectful way,” Powell said.

He said they make sure the signs aren’t a roadway hazard, and the foundation intends to maintain them.

The foundation hopes to install about five signs a year, Powell said.

“We’ve tried to focus on officers from a few decades back to make sure they’re not forgotten,” he said.

Laquere, a resident of Grosse Pointe Woods, said his department has tried to ensure that Pine’s sacrifice isn’t lost on new generations of officers.

“It’s been over 40 years (since the accident),” he said. “There’s not that many people that (personally) know about it. We make it a point, with all new officers, to tell them about him.”

Farms Public Safety officer Matthew Hurner visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., and obtained an impression of Pine’s name from the memorial to help create a special display in Pine’s honor last year inside the Farms Public Safety Department offices.

Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen said it’s important to honor Pine. Jensen has been with the department for more than 40 years, but he said Pine died three years before he started, so he never had a chance to work with him.

“I think it’s an honor to be able to hang that sign,” Jensen said of the public roadway memorial. “It’s very sad, obviously. It’s sad whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty, and it seems to happen with more frequency. I hope and pray we don’t ever have to put up another (memorial) sign.”

Since last year, Laquere and others have been trying to locate Pine’s surviving family members to let them know about the memorial. Although a date hadn’t been set at press time, Laquere said they hope to show some of Pine’s family members the sign in his honor during a program sometime this spring.

To donate or to see a map of the memorial signs now on display in metro Detroit, visit www.collinrosememorial.org.

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