CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Charleston Police Department’s one-year-old Honor Guard car has just won the National Police Week Honor Guard Vehicle Tribute competition for its dedication to fallen police officers.
“We have all of our fallen officers on the hood of the car. We have our Honor Guard patch on the side. We also have a lot of lights and stuff on it, things that draws a lot of attention to the car,” CPD Cpl. Eddie Whitehead said. Whitehead also is the Assistant Honor Guard Commander.
The idea to have a personalized police car came about last year when Charleston Police Chief Hunt was in Washington D.C. during National Police Week.
A year later, the car won a national award.
“You will normally hear ‘the officer will never be forgotten,’ well that’s a way for us, and Chief Hunt will agree with that, to not forget them is to place their names on the vehicle. Which the vehicle will be around for many years to come, and after this vehicle gets old enough, we will just replace it with another one,” CPD Sgt. and Honor Guard Commander Keith Peoples said.
The car belongs to Sgt. Peoples, and the car even has his photo on the side of it.
Peoples said the moment when the car won best design during the national police week honor guard vehicle tribute on May 14 was truly exciting.
“My picture on there, that represents all officers too because as you will see, there’s a folded flag with an honor guard member bowing his head, so that represents all the officers throughout the country that was killed in the line of duty,” Peoples said.
It’s not just another police car, but a car dedicated to Charleston Police officers who died in the line of duty.
“That was what kind of what separated our vehicle from some of the vehicles we were in competition with. It was a very unique design. We were the only ones that actually had our commander on the side of the vehicle, along with the picture of Charleston kind of in the background too,” Whitehead said. “It looked nice, and it worked out really well.”
The back of the car also has an image of the state capitol to represent all officer deaths in the state of West Virginia.
The honor guard patch is one the side of the vehicle to represent what the honor guard does for fallen police officers and their families.
“Being a part of the Honor Guard, we travel to several different locations out of state to honor fallen officers all over. Its’ a lot different, but we get to pay our respects, and it’s very important to us,” Honor Guard member and CPD Detective Allison Brown said.
Brown said it was important to bring the ‘Best Design’ title home because it’s more than just a competition. It is about remembering the sacrifices fallen officers have made.
“They shouldn’t just be on the hood of a car. They should be everywhere. The sacrifices they’ve made, and their families have made, there’s no words for it,” Brown said.
Detective Brown said being part of the honor guard for the last two years has meant a lot to her personally.
“Anyone that’s served and lost their lives, they deserve the utmost respect. The least that we can do is travel an hour, two hours, a few hours and just be there for them and their family,” Brown said. “That’s the least we can do, and it is a huge honor and privilege just to be there for that.”
Sgt. Peoples said he plans to re-enter the car in next year’s National Police Week Vehicle Tribute competition, but until then, he hopes Charleston residents continue to remember fallen officers whenever they see the car.