ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A police officer, knelt in prayer. It’s a symbol of mourning and remembrance, a life-sized bronze statue that will stand next to a memorial wall in front of the new Orlando Police Headquarters on Orange Blossom Trail, thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Michael Collins.
“It'll be fully customized with OPD uniform insignias,” Collins explains, “so all the nuances of the OPD uniform will be represented on the statue. So it'll truly be an OPD officer in all respects.”
A member of Orlando’s Troop 24, Collins must complete a special project before attaining the Boy Scouts' highest honor, Eagle Scout. He first thought of the statue as a way for the city to honor police nationwide, but the deaths of Lieutenant Clayton and Deputy Lewis have added special significance.
“The events of the past week have brought that issue and this tragedy and it's made the project a whole lot more meaningful and personal to me, and also to the City of Orlando,” Collins said.
Collins needs to raise $45,000 to pay for the statue. He's within about ten thousand dollars of that goal. The Doctor Philips Charities are also raising matching funds in this final stretch. Collins' father, Don, says he couldn't be prouder that Michael is supporting the police.
“People appreciate what the police department and sheriffs do for us, and recognize that we don't say thank you enough,” said Don Collins.
Collins is coordinating with Chief Mina on the project and says he has the police department's full support. If all goes well, the statue should be installed on-site by summertime. Collins says any additional money raised will go to a police memorial fund. You can find a link to his Go Fund Me page here.