The Grayson County Sheriff's Office unveiled a large mural Thursday, honoring all 25 of the county's law enforcement officers known to have died while in the line of duty since the 1800s.
The full-color painting fills an entire at wall at the entrance of the agency's office and includes images of a GCSO Honor Guard standing watch; a depiction of good versus evil, illustrated by an angel standing atop the devil; and two lions looking directly at the names of the fallen officers, cast on individual plaques. The event was begun with a performance by bagpipe players of the Sherman Police Department's Regional Pipe Band was attended by law enforcement officers from around the county, family members and elected officials.
“A memorial in a prominent place for everybody to see — that was lacking here,” Watt said. “We felt like we needed to put something together.”
Watt said the conversation on how to best honor the county's fallen officers began roughly a year and a half ago, but the agency ultimately decided to enlist the help of local artist Sydney Sbarbaro after seeing another mural she painted at the Denison Fire Rescue headquarters.
“I am so glad the sheriff found me for this project,” Sbarbaro said. “It's not very often that an artist gets the chance to do something like this and paint a big mural that memorializes all the men and women who gave their lives protecting us.”
GCSO Chief Deputy Tony Bennie read aloud the names of the more than two dozen officers who were killed while on duty. Among those memorialized, former GCSO deputy Chad Key's name stood out as the county's most recent loss.
Key worked as both a corrections officer at the Grayson County Jail and as a patrol deputy. On the night of April 20, 2013 — just weeks into his role as a deputy — he was dispatched to the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and Bethany Road to assist with traffic management as the Fannin County Sheriff's Office and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers engaged in a vehicle pursuit traveling through the area.
The deputy had brought multiple vehicles to a stop, but a drunken driver, unrelated to the pursuit, entered the intersection at high speed and struck Key. Paramedics transported Key to Texoma Medical Center where he died from his injuries a short time later. Chad Key was 45 years old. He is survived by his wife, April, and their two sons.
April Key attended the unveiling and said she knew, from a brief preview, that the mural would do justice to her late husband and the other fallen officers. Key said she plans to travel to Washington, D.C. on Friday in observance of National Police Week and the recent five-year anniversary of her husband's death. She said the mural was a moving gift to her family and those of the other officers who paid the ultimate price in service.
“I don't have the words to say what I'm feeling, but I'm honored, once again, that the sheriff's office and the community continues to remember and honor Chad,” Key said. “This mean's something to me and our family, more than I can express into words.”
Watt expressed his thanks to the Grayson County Law Enforcement Association, the Denison Police Association and the Sherman Police Association for funding the project.