CAT board members meet to discuss Mark McPhail memorial - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

CAT board members meet to discuss Mark McPhail memorial

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For months now, there's been an elephant in the room on Oglethorpe Avenue. 

Should Chatham Area Transit officials erect some sort of memorial to slain Savannah Police Officer Mark McPhail? Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of fatally shooting McPhail on the site more than 20 years ago.

Chatham Area Transit board members even created a committee to discuss it, presenting their findings on Tuesday with a sort-of decision.

CAT Board Member Priscilla Thomas took a moment to defend her character after being attacked over the prolonged decision making of a McPhail memorial at the intermodal CAT bus station.

"I don't see color.  I see whatever the situation is and try to make the right decision," she said.

They said their decision didn't come down to a black man murdering a white officer. The volunteer committee made up of board members Thomas, Helen Stone, and Mary Osborne decided that CAT honor all 51 officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But the city already has a monument in front of SCMPD headquarters to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.  So why have another one?

Stone, who was first approached by former Chatham County Commissioner and former Savannah Police Chief David Gellatly to honor McPhail at the site said, "I think it was a question of if you do something for one police officer, you shouldn't discount the fact that other police officers lost their life in the line of duty as well."

Commissioner Thomas requested that Interim Police Chief Julie Tolbert voice her opinion.

"We've taken a position that we would like the board to consider being supportive of each and every officer that has lost his or her life," Tolbert. "The officer's family, I'm sure would be equally appreciative."

And moving forward with honoring all the 51, Stone said they would work in cooperation with the vicitms' families.  So what about the McPhail family? 

I reached out to Officer Mcphail's son, who said no one has ever approached his family about a memorial to his slain father.

"That spot will always have significance," said Mark McPhail, Jr. "Put a plaque there or not; that's where he died. It's up to the city, and I can't sway them.  We will never need a plaque to remind us that a hero fell there."

Osborne added, "To individualize one person, on a given site, as opposed to all the other 51, including Mr. McPhail, would be a disservice to our other fallen officers"

So now, the three member committee and Chief Tolbert will meet again to decide how CAT will memorialize the fallen.

The suggestion is plaques at every site of fallen officers or planting trees, much like Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart.

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