The hidden message behind the Wichita Law Enforcement Memorial

Wichita’s most recent police shooting appears to have been set into motion three years ago, when Nicholas Garner, the deceased, was arrested for the distribution or attempted distribution of narcotics.

Garner was shot and killed by a Wichita police officer this past Saturday night, after the officer pulled him over for unspecified traffic infractions. According to the police department and witnesses, the officer had partially entered Garner’s vehicle in an attempt to remove Garner from the driver’s seat when Garner started driving forward, hitting a police car, and ultimately taking the wrong direction on the Dugan ramp to Kellogg, and striking another vehicle.

A diagram depicting the path of Garner's vehicle, shown at a WPD press briefing.
A diagram depicting the path of Garner’s vehicle, shown at a WPD press briefing.

At that time, the officer, who had been dragged by Garner’s car, opened fire, killing Garner.

The officer, who, in adherence with Wichita Police Department policy, has not been identified to the public, is reportedly doing well and has been released from the hospital.

According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Garner was paroled from prison on May 27th of this year, and was under moderate supervision at the time of his death. While there is still much we do not know about the circumstances of his death, this incident appears to have been fueled by substance abuse, and a fear of returning to prison.

At the moment, Garner’s KDOC profile appears to be unavailable online.

According to Garner’s wife, he had been acting erratically and was not in his “right mind”. She stated to KWCH that his eyes were sunken into his head, that he had lost weight, and could not sit still. Without seeing the toxicology report, which may be released soon, it would appear that Garner was abusing methamphetamine, or some other powerful drug.

But how does all of this relate to the Wichita Law Enforcement Memorial?

Outside City Hall, on the corner of Central and Main, the memorial serves to recognize all of the law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty in the Wichita area. Each officer’s life is represented with a plaque and a pair of bronze boots.

Each plaque shows the year of the officer’s death, and that is where we find the hidden message, and that message is clear. Prohibition kills cops. Just as the prohibition of the drugs that Garner was convicted of selling appear to be the root cause of the behavior that resulted in the loss of his life, and nearly resulted in the loss of an officer’s life, prohibition has also played a part in the deaths of the majority of the officers honored in the memorial.

Alcohol prohibition in the United States began in 1920 and lasted until it was repealed in 1933. Prior to 1920, three officers in the Wichita areas lost their lives in the line of duty.

Between 1920 and 1933, fourteen officers were killed. The first of those fourteen officers was Wichita Police Detective William H. Ballard, who lost his life after being murdered by an opium addict in 1920. Detective Ballard was the great-grandfather of Wichita police accountability activist Doug Ballard, who has called for cameras to be placed on officers, for greater transparency in shootings, and for an end to the militarization of police forces around the nation.

Disgraced President Richard Nixon began the “War on Drugs” in 1972, again placing police officers in the line of fire. Between 1933 and 1974, only two Wichita area police officers were killed in the line of duty, one in 1934, and one in 1964.

From 1974 to the present, 10 Wichita area police officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. The message is clear. Prohibition, whether it is alcohol, or drugs, kills cops.

11 thoughts on “The hidden message behind the Wichita Law Enforcement Memorial

  1. Yes, the War on Drugs seems to be a failure. The increase in Police Officer deaths being one consequence that had not registered with me before reading the above article. On my recent vacation to Colorado, I noticed signs reading just say “know” which I assume are designed to reflect a change in that State from the old “just say No” campaign. Education which allows informed decisions sounds better than using the Police Power of the State to punish those who decide to use marijuana. I don’t consider methamphetamine to be anything like marijuana, so I really don’t have the answer.

  2. I realize you didn’t write this article and are only sharing it but it made me curious so I looked up all of the officer deaths since 1974 to see the circumstances around the deaths of the 10 officers who have passed away in the line of duty since then. I only found 9 but below is what I found.

    Police Officer Paul Garofalo – Killed when he stopped to question two women in the street. Appears to be a cold blooded murder –
    Police Officer Danny Dean Laffey – Killed by a vehicle while investigating a disturbance at a local club, this vehicle was not involved with the original disturance.
    Lieutenant John Eugene Galvin – died of injuries received two weeks earlier from an explosion as he and members of the agency’s bomb squad were destroying commercial fireworks.
    Detective Roy Vance Johnson – Shot and killed while attempting to apprehend an escaped prisoner who had shot and wounded a Wichita detective. Occured in the courthouse by a robbery suspect.
    Detective Terry Wayne McNett – Shot and killed while participating in the execution of a search warrant. The suspect was convicted of second degree murder, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, selling cocaine, and possession of heroin.
    Deputy Sheriff Christopher C. Willems – Shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop. Found a small amount of marijuna in vehicle during a search of the occupants van, killed while attempting to arrest suspect.
    Deputy Sheriff Kevin S. Easter – Shot and killed during a vehicle stop, vehicle was stolen and ran from the scene when they crashed the vehicle.
    Patrol Sergeant Kenneth Eugene Snider – Killed after being stabbed at a domestic disturbance, The suspect had a history of mental illness and was well known to police.
    Deputy Brian Scott Etheridge – Shot and killed after responding to a report of a larceny, suspect called in the 911 call to ambush officers.

    While I don’t agree with all of the laws around drug prohibition, trying to directly link the increased deaths of officers in the line of duty to the laws around drug prohibition is entirely misleading, touting the numbers of officers killed without any of the circumstances shows a clear bias and agenda being pushed.

    1. I did write the article. I am not sure why you think I did not. That being said, drugs and alcohol played roles in several of these deaths, despite the underlying charges and circumstances.

      1. Which ones do you assert drugs and alcohol played a part in? Give specifics and stop making generalizations. My guess is you won’t be able to name even one because you don’t actually know.

    2. Kind of like how the cops always say that a bunch of other crimes are related to drugs, thus the need for the continuance of the drug war. Or no?

    3. You mean kind of like how the supposed whole reason for the drug War is all the ancillary crimes that drugs create? Or no?

  3. What a terrible article. This makes no sense. As posted above, most of the deaths weren’t even related to drugs. Just another case of false information to push your narrative.

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