Updated: 09/11/2013 7:02 PM
Created: 09/11/2013 6:09 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen
An I-Team 10 investigation drives people to take action after the state says "no" to memorial road signs for fallen officers. The group says it has the support of some lawmakers who have told them they would sponsor legislation to get it done, but that could take months or even years to pass. Others are trying to put pressure on the DOT to change its policy now.
There are 12 signs that the Badge of Honor Association have made up to remember sheriff's deputies that have died in the line of duty. But in a letter from the Department of Transportation, the group was told the signs are not permitted on state roads.
Paul Hood said, "New York State Department of Transportation is crazy. I mean, we're not going to honor fallen police officers by putting a little sign along the side of state routes that's costing the state nothing?"
Paul Hood is with the not-for profit group Heroes Memorial Foundation and after hearing about the state's rejection, he decided to take action.
Hood said, "When I became aware of your story, I went online and started a petition at change.org, basically calling for the New York State Legislature to put pressure on New York Department of Transportation."
The DOT says signs placed along the road should guide, regulate or warn traffic.We were told some exceptions are granted for select purposes like sponsored adopt-a-highway signs. A DOT spokesperson told I-Team 10 while well-intended, failure to regulate how many signs are allowed could cause driver distraction. That explanation rings hollow to Tim Skelton.
Tim Skelton said, "I think this is a travesty and a tragedy for those who have served and protected and I'm very disappointed."
One of those signs is for his father, Sergeant Robert Skelton, who was killed in 1972 while on patrol, hit by a drunk driver here on Clover Street, also known as State Route 65 in Pittsford. Tim Skelton was born two weeks after his father died. He lives in Hawaii now and contacted us after a relative sent him a link to our initial report. He is also asking the DOT to reconsider.
Skelton said, "It's the right thing to do. It's in honor of people who serve and protect the great state of New York. I would also plead to them what happens if it was one of your family members that had served and died."
Our initial report generated a lot of opinion and response, including from the owner of the property across the street where Sergeant Skelton was killed. He has offered to let them put the sign on his land for the time being until the dispute is settled.
If you want to sign the online petition, click here.