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I-Team 10: State says "no" to memorial signs

Updated: 09/09/2013 7:02 PM
Created: 09/09/2013 5:31 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

Honoring fallen sheriff's deputies who gave their lives in the line of duty. Two local groups want to put up memorial signs along roads you drive on, but the state is telling them they can't. 
 
At the center of the dispute is the type of sign. It's not your typical road sign, but when you drive around town, not every sign is geared toward helping drivers. Even state lawmakers support the project.
 
When it comes to roadway signs, there are all sorts of rules to make sure drivers don't become distracted. But a local group looking to honor fallen deputies says its signs are just a simple reminder that someone died trying to serve and protect.
 
It was a rainy night in June of 1972 when Monroe County Sheriff's Sergeant Robert Skelton was driving his patrol car down Clover Street in Pittsford. He was hit by a drunk driver head-on and died 30 hours later. Now the Badge of Honor Association and the county sheriff's retiree organization wants to put up a sign along that stretch of road to remember Skelton's sacfirice. 
 
Sgt. Justin Collins, Badge of Honor Association, said, “It's a tribute to men and women who deserve it. 
These are people who served this community and died in the line of duty."
 
Skelton is one of 12 local fallen sheriff's deputies the group wants to memorialize at the locations where they died. But if you drive by, you aren't likely to see the sign for Sergeant Skelton anytime soon. That's because Albany has said "no" to the request even though the local groups are willing to pay for and maintain the signs. Clover Street, also known as Route 65 is a state road. Of the 12 memorial signs, eight were targeted along state roads.
 
Sgt. Justin Collins said, "We've requested formally numerous times to be able to do this. Locally, here in Monroe County, we've had nothing but support, but our goal is to put these signs up and we're just told that what's on our signs does not meet the qualifications to put them up on state roads.”
 
The New York State Department of Transportation says its policy restricts the types of signs that can be displayed on roadways. The groups received a letter from the DOT saying quote, "signs placed along the road should guide, regulate or warn traffic. Those that don't should not be used.”
 
So, how do you explain signs like for Monroe County in Bloom or the many adopt-a-highway signs that seem more like free advertising than anything else. I-Team 10 called the DOT for an answer to that question. They are still waiting to hear back from them.
 
For Larry Crawford, the cause is personal. His wife, Jail Corporal Catherine Crawford died of blood clots in 1995, after being injured breaking up a fight between inmates.
 
Larry Crawford said, "I can't understand why they wouldn't. These people put their life on the line for us and we're trying to remember them."   
 
Sgt. Justin Collins said, "We're going to keep fighting. We absolutely have to fight because we know this is right."
 
Collins says they have gone to state politicians from the area and say they have support for what they're doing, but have been told it may take legislation to make it happen. I-Team 10 will continue to follow this story and let you know if anything changes. In the meantime, we want to know what you think. Go to our Facebook page and post your comments. 


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