The Clarksville Protector
Arts and Culture | Downtown
In February 2002, Clarksville Police Officer, Jackie Ashby, was inspired by the “Protector,” a memorial statue featured in several cities that depicts a police officer with a child. While on a business trip to Washington D.C. with her husband Lt. Phil Ashby, Jackie began to see a vision: A vision in her heart of a “Protector” for the city of Clarksville.
Eventually, Ashby made a proposal to the Clarksville Chief of Police Dwight Ingle and Mayor Don Trotter. Ashby was granted approval and the project began. The statue would be placed outside of the Clarksville Police Department for everyone to see.
The project was estimated to cost more than $35,000. After the first donation of only $30, Ashby was a bit discouraged but did not give up on her dream of making the project succeed.
After a few weeks, Ashby received a check for $2000. This helped and encouraged her to continue. She made a proposal for a commemorative brick program that allowed donations of $100 for officers or members of the C. C. P. A. who obtained 10 pledges. The bricks would have engravings of the donors’ choice. The engravings would be included with the proceeds from the officers’ donations.
From there, businesses began opening their doors for fundraisers. One of the projects involved local schools. One department even designed a fund-raising project they called “Links of Valor.” Kids could purchase a link for a dime and the resulting chains were displayed at a local shopping mall. The chains went around the center four times and raised over $4000.
When Ashby began researching for a sculptor for the project, she discovered Brodin Studios in Minnesota. Brodin Studios was founded by brothers, Roger and Neil. Both were Minneapolis officers who are now well known for their art for the law enforcement and public safety communities. They had created several “Protector” pieces in many cities.
Brodin Studios not only had experience in designing the sculpture, they also understood the significance of the project. They were very supportive and provided ideas for construction as well as sculpture itself. Impressed with their recommendation and ideas, there was no longer any question of who would create this statue.
Ashby eventually raised the money thanks to private donations from citizens, police officers, and local businesses. It took three years from when she was originally inspired to complete her dream. On May 17, 2005, the statue was unveiled at a ceremony held at the Clarksville Police Department in honor of fallen law enforcement officers.
The “Clarksville Protector” depicts real Clarksville police officers. Brodin Studios uses an “ancient lost wax process of hot bronze casting.” It allows them to customize their work for any department. For example, the “Clarksville Protectors” are designed in Clarksville police uniforms including real badge numbers.
The statue is bronze to represent all races, nationalities, and sex, without discrimination. The police officer holding the child’s hand represents a caring and compassionate city where everyone can feel safe and how honorably the officers lost their lives. This statue was featured on the cover of the Federal Order of Police along with an article titled “Remembering Lives Lost in Duty”.
Ashby’s idea was to have a place where the children could come to honor their fallen mothers and fathers and appreciate how they lived their lives. Jackie said, “Sometimes the heart sees things that are invisible to the eye.”
When the statue was unveiled, she knew her work was accomplished and appreciated. There were over 200 people present for the unveiling. Among them were the wives and children of Officers Dave Scoot and Yamil Santiago. They were both killed in a high-speed police chase just a few months after Ashby began the project.
“I could tell in the eyes of their children that my goal was accomplished,” Ashby said.
by Michael Vailes and Sherry Bland
Clarksville, TN 37040