A.E. Araiza /Arizona Daily Star

On the night Tucson police Officer Patrick Hardesty was killed, Chief Richard Miranda made a promise that he would never be forgotten.

That vow was fulfilled Tuesday night when the Police Department unveiled a memorial plaza outside its headquarters, 270 S. Stone Ave. The memorial honors the seven Tucson officers, dating back to 1892, who died in the line of duty.

Calling it one of the biggest challenges undertaken by the department, Miranda credited the completion of the plaza to the generosity of the community, which raised $165,000 for the plaza and donated $150,000 worth of labor and materials.

An $82,500 federal grant paid for the plaza's centerpiece, a three-piece bronze sculpture on an 8-foot concrete wall covered with tile.

Miranda said it "represents a communitywide effort to show appreciation for the seven officers who sacrificed their lives for the community."

The sculpture features a seated woman with a police hat in her lap. She is releasing a dove as a guard dog sits at her feet.

A western hat, a star-shaped badge and a pistol in a holster drape the side of the centerpiece, a tribute to the history of the department, a statement from the artist said.

When Hardesty's widow, Demetra, placed flowers in the woman's lap, she said she saw her husband in the dove.

"It's like she's holding onto Patrick's spirit," she said.

Patrick Hardesty was killed in 2003 after responding to a hit-and-run call. A jury found that John Montenegro Cruz shot Hardesty five times as the officer ran after him.

The centerpiece sits atop concrete steps lined with tiles, each bearing the name of contributors to the memorial. Grass surrounds the concrete.

The memorial and the public support that made it possible show the character of community, Demetra Hardesty said.

"I never would have imagined the community would be so involved," she said. "It's a really good support network."

Patrick's brother, Ed Hardesty, agreed. "We consider the men and women of the Tucson Police Department our family," he said. "And they will always be family."

Both Ed and Demetra said they were happy that a permanent memorial dedicated to the fallen officers would be present for generations to come.

"These officers will never be forgotten," Ed said.

The ceremony featured the Tucson police choir and a keynote address by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Rachel Brand.

"We are all in your debt," Brand said to the families of fallen officers.

l Officer William Elliott,

l Officer William Katzenstein,

l Officer Robert Cummins,

l Officer Barry Headricks,

l Officer James Smith,

l Officer Jeffrey Ross,

l Officer Patrick K. Hardesty,

● Contact reporter Aaron Mackey at 629-9412 or amackey@azstarnet.com.