One hundred and five years ago Boston Police Officer Walter Harris was riding a stagecoach to an emergency when the carriage hit a low hanging tree limb and sent the patrolman flying.
He died a few months later from the injuries he sustained from the fall.
At the spot in Dorchester where Harris’ accident occurred — at Adams and Lincoln streets — there is a sign with his name and a badge.
The sign is part of the Hero Sign project organized by the department’s chronologist, Officer Robert Anthony. Instead of a centralized memorial to honor the scores of Boston officers who have been killed in the line of duty, the effort pays tribute to the patrolmen at the exact spot where their watch ended.
“It’s something to reflect upon and that’s tangible,” said Anthony. “BPD is a very historic department, being the nation’s first, and there’s a lot of pride in that history.”
The program started with an idea in 2007 and the support of Commissioner Ed Davis and the city. The signs are still being placed in various neighborhoods with more set to go up in the next few weeks.
Anthony said he hopes to have signs up for all of the city’s officers killed in the line of duty within the next year or two.
One of the next signs to go up will be in Kenmore Square where Officer John Gallagher was fatally shot by a man stealing from a bank.
“I’m just pleased to say the least,” said Anne Gallagher, who was 4 years old when her father was fatally shot. “Ecstatic doesn’t capture the more somber side of it, but I’m very happy they’re doing it.”
The effort has also led to Anthony and researcher Margaret Sullivan finding documents that helped to correctly classify the casualties of some officers as line-of-duty deaths.
“You can never forget someone who gave their life,” said Anthony.