With the recent death of a Fairbanks officer still fresh on Alaskans’ minds, the community of North Pole celebrated the unveiling of an archway that stands to welcome visitors to a park dedicated to fallen law enforcement officers and military personnel.


The archway is dedicated to Alaska State Troopers Gabe Rich and Sgt. Scott Johnson, who were killed in the line of duty in Tanana in 2014. North Pole police Chief Steve Dutra said in an email that the memorial park the archway is a part of is not yet complete, and an official opening ceremony will be held there on May 1 to honor all of those whose names will be in the park, located at 2870 Doughchee Avenue.


“We will hold the annual ceremony on that date since it is the anniversary of Trooper Gabe Rich and Trooper Scott Johnson’s death,” he explained.


At the unveiling ceremony on Saturday, Rich and Johnson’s photos were placed on walls in the park and surrounded by flowers, as was a photo of Fairbanks Sgt. Allen Brandt. Brandt died recently from surgical complications related to wounds he suffered in an on-duty shooting.


“This archway was paid for from a donation by the Alaska Police Officers Association Farthest North Chapter,” Dutra explained. “They donated $4300.00 from the Fallen Officer fund they have to pay the costs associated with its construction.”


Dutra said the process of collecting names for the park has only just begun. In order for someone’s name to be included, their next of kin must fill out an application, which will be reviewed by the Memorial Committee. The deceased must have been a resident of the Fairbanks North Star Borough at the time of their death in order to qualify.