Widow fighting for husband's name to be added to state memorial
OKLAHOMA CITY —
There was a promise made to the spouses of the 2012 Oklahoma City Police Academy cadets. The promise that despite the often grueling training required to be a police officer, the cadets would survive. It's a promise Elke Meeus remembers well.
"'They'll survive the academy, They won't survive on the streets if they're not prepared,'" Meeus recalls, "I'm not sure they'll be saying that to any more recruits in the future."
Meeus was married to Kelley Chase; the first Oklahoma City Police cadet to ever die during the academy. Meeus accepted his badge in his honor at the academy graduation.
"I went to that graduation ceremony because I was doing it for him and for the kids; it would have been a proud moment," Meeus told Fox 25.
Now those moments are only memories; memories that she is trying to keep alive for her young children. Today she can take her children to see their father's name on the memorial that sits outside the Oklahoma City Police Department. It's a memorial for fallen officers, but Chase's name is the only line-of-duty death on the Oklahoma City memorial that isn't also included on the state memorial for fallen heroes.
"Everything just seems to add insult to injury; there's no gain from that but it's just things I can show my kids later," Meeus said, "Look this was your dad and he was very proud of everything he did."
Chase's missing name is being challenged by the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP lodge stepped up to provide legal services and support for Meeus, even though her husband was not yet a member. "He would have been, he's still one of us," said FOP President John George, "Member or not it's the right thing to do. It's all we want in this whole deal is everybody to do the right thing."
George is hoping the state memorial will reconsider adding Chase's name, but the chairman of the memorial says he doesn't meet the criteria that was established more than two decades ago.
"You have to be a law enforcement officer with arrest powers and the death has to be because of an accident or injury that occurred on duty or in the performance of their duties," said Dennis Lippe the Chairman of the Oklahoma State Law Enforcement Memorial.
Oklahoma's memorial sits just outside the headquarters for the Department of Public Safety. It was the first memorial in the country dedicated to fallen law enforcement officers and there are more than six hundred names engraved on the monuments. Two of those names are of law enforcement officers from Puerto Rico who died in a car accident in Oklahoma.
"We honor the tribal police, the city, county state and federal officers; if they died in Oklahoma they are on our memorial," said Lippe.
Lippe told Fox 25 because Chase wasn't commissioned at the time of his death he likely won't be added to the memorial. "I'm sure he was a great man and an honorable man and I would have like to have met him, but as far as the memorial he doesn't qualify."
Ultimately the decision is up the board, which is composed of eight different law enforcement organizations. Representatives from the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association, Oklahoma Sheriff and Peace Officers Association, the Oklahoma State Fraternal Order of Police, Oklahoma Chiefs of Police Association, Oklahoma Gang Investigators, A-ONE (an association for narcotics officers), the Game Wardens Association and the Oklahoma State Troopers Association will meet again in January.
The state FOP spokesman said his organization's vote will go to whatever the Oklahoma City FOP recommends.
George said the only difference between Chase and other police cadets is when cities choose to commission officers. He said state law allows cities to commission police officers for a year before they are required to complete training and some cities commission cadets at the beginning on the academy.