If you’re a Menomonee Falls resident you drive past it on a daily basis. It’s a green space, not unlike other picturesque parks in the village. But its purpose runs much deeper than providing an attractive view for passersby. I’m describing John S. Taylor Park on the east side of Appleton Avenue between Garfield Drive and Mill Street. The park honors the memory of Officer John Taylor, a Menomonee Falls Police Officer who died in the line of duty on August 6, 1977.
On that night, John was in the parking lot of the Police Department at the end of what is still referred to as an Early Shift, the 3:00pm to 11:00pm watch. His shift was essentially over. He may have had plans for after shift, or was maybe just looking forward to a good night’s sleep. He didn’t wake that morning thinking this would be his last day. The report of a vehicle pursuit was received. The State Patrol was attempting to stop a traffic violator and the violator fled. John might have proceeded with the drudgery of end-of-shift tasks, gassing up his squad, turning in reports, checking out with the sergeant. But John did what hundreds of thousands of officers do on a daily basis; he drove towards the incident to assist in whatever way he could. Using his squad as a road block, John stopped his squad in the traffic lanes of Menomonee Ave., but did not have enough time to exit before the violator struck him. Despite resuscitative efforts of fellow officers, John died that night.
May 15th of each year is designated Peace Officer Memorial Day and since its inception in 1962 under President John F. Kennedy, the week surrounding that date has come to be known as Police Week. This year, like every year, Washington, D.C. was the destination of thousands of law enforcement officers, their families and others wanting to show support for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Events included a memorial service, a Blue Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, a 5K run / walk hosted by the Officer Down Memorial Page (https://www.odmp.org/). Wisconsin Riders - Police Unity Tour members, a group of avid law enforcement bicyclists, rode into the Capital along with like groups from many other states.
At the MFPD we had our own recognition of Police Week. Officers attended memorial services in Madison (the State Memorial Service), Waukesha County, and most meaningful, here in the Village. On May 19th, a memorial service was held at the park, attended by John’s family, members of the Police and Fire Departments, retirees of those departments and members of the public. John’s service and sacrifice was honored in the service, as is done each year. He is further remembered through a memorial in the Police Department lobby and a large mural of his badge in an often-traveled Department hallway. Perhaps most importantly however, he is remembered through the recounting of that night by current members of the Department; not because we were there (the Departmental generations move on), but because John is and always will be a part of our department. His story will continue to be told. During Police Week each year and in many other ways, Officer John Taylor will be remembered.