GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Family, friends and community members are working to build a memorial for fallen Grand Rapids Police Officer Robert Kozminski in a park on the city’s West Side.
The permanent plaque bearing Kozminski’s name — as well as the names of the 14 other officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department who have died in the line of duty — is expected to go at Richmond Park. Friends and family say it’s only fitting for Kozminski’s legacy to carry on at a park on the West Side, where he grew up.
“He would have an extra smile on his face looking down, knowing people cared about what he did,” Jack Potes, Kozminski’s friend, said. “He was a hero.”
Kozminski was shot and killed in the early morning hours of July 8, 2007 after responding to a domestic dispute.
“When we lost Bobby, it was like losing a brother,” said Officer Tony Leonard, GRPD’s community police officer for the West Side. “I think it’s vital so that we don’t forget Bobby’s memory and his family has a place to memorialize him — but also for generations to come.”
Multiple organizations on the West Side are leading a fundraising effort to fund the memorial — a project already approved by the city.
“It’s a terrible story, but it’s very eye opening. It proves that again just our freedom, again having this conversation — that wouldn’t happen with people like Bobby,” Tammy Brann, the owner of Brann’s Steakhouse and Grill, said.
It was her father Johnny’s idea to spearhead an effort to install the plaque in Richmond Park.
“Talking to every single one of these families that have lost heroes, all they want is for them to be remembered, and that’s the least we can do,” Tammy Brann said.
It has yet to be decided exactly where the memorial will be located within the park.
The fundraising effort, organized in partnership with the West Grand Neighborhood Association, aims to raise $30,000 to install the memorial and another $35,000 to contribute to the Robert A. Kozminski Memorial Scholarship, which pays for one year of full tuition at Grand Rapids Community College for a student whose goal is to work in law enforcement. The recipient is chosen by Kozminski’s parents.
The fundraising effort has so far raised about $3,000. Donations may be made online.