K-9 memorial to beautify police grounds

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 21, 2019

 Residents left wreaths, stuffed animals, flowers, food and other items outside the St. Clair Shores Police Department as a temporary memorial to K-9 Axe, who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 4, 2018. Now the department will construct a permanent memorial to the police dog on the northeast corner of the building.

Residents left wreaths, stuffed animals, flowers, food and other items outside the St. Clair Shores Police Department as a temporary memorial to K-9 Axe, who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 4, 2018. Now the department will construct a permanent memorial to the police dog on the northeast corner of the building.

File photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — To say that the November 2018 death of K-9 Axe hit the community hard would be an understatement.

“He was one of the — if not the — most beloved member of our department,” said St. Clair Shores Police Chief Todd Woodcox. “He interacted with the community better than any officer or other K-9.”

After the dog’s death in the line of duty, the department received many phone calls, letters and donations from residents and supporters who wanted to develop a memorial in Axe’s honor, Woodcox told the City Council June 17.

“We had $1,000 checks coming in; we had kids breaking open their piggy banks,” he said.

All told, $54,000 was donated in memory of Axe for a memorial in his honor. But Woodcox said they didn’t want to just erect a statue. Instead, they looked to create a pocket park that will include a memorial statue and, at the same time, redo all the landscaping around the Police Department, located at 27665 Jefferson Ave.

“I think we’ve come up with a really, really great plan,” he said. “Do it all at once and get it done well.

“That will be a fitting memorial, but also will be an amazing upgrade.”

The department experiences some minor flooding in the basement because of poor grading of the land around the building, which will also be fixed as part of the project.

The memorial will include a 20-foot-diameter pocket park on the corner of 11 Mile Road and Jefferson Avenue with benches and an area connecting via a path to sidewalks on both roads. In addition, landscaping will be replaced along the building’s north and west sides, for a total cost of $265,843. Woodcox said that the additional funding will come out of the drug forfeiture fund. The project was awarded to Bernco Inc., of St. Clair Shores.

“We do have a grade issue on the north side of that building that this will address,” said City Manager Mike Smith. “It’s going to be money well-spent.”

That amount does not include the cost of a statue memorial, which Woodcox said ranges in price from about $3,500 for an “off the shelf” statue memorial to tens of thousands of dollars more for a custom statue in the likeness of Axe.

After the June 17 meeting, however, Woodcox said that enough donations have been made to the Michigan War Dog Memorial to pay for a custom statue in the likeness of Axe.

Woodcox said that he thinks the development will be a fitting memorial to Axe to have the dog’s statue “kind of keeping an eye on the area.” He said they also will work to incorporate a fitting memorial to two other police officers who were killed in the line of duty in the 1940s.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the bid from Bernco Inc. for the park in the amount of $265,843, which was the low bid on the project.

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