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Collin Rose Memorial Highway sign erected in July

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: August 8, 2019

The Sgt. Collin Rose Memorial Highway sign was erected in July along M-10 Lodge Freeway.

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Courtney Gewirtz’s efforts to permanently memorialize fallen Wayne State Police Sgt. Collin Rose by designating a portion of M-10 in his honor hit several roadblocks along the way. Rose’s highway memorial sign was finally erected in late July.

“I started this almost immediately after he passed away. It’s been a really time consuming, complex process,” however, Gewirtz said in June, “The 2-1/2 years I’ve been working on the highway memorial sign will be worth it.”

Gewirtz and her husband, Fred Gewirtz, were good friends of Sgt. Rose, having gone to Ferris State University with him. Fred and Collin were Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers. They were roommates in college and again in Eastpointe right after college. “I spent a lot of time with Collin and really got to know the passion for his work and what he was doing,” Courtney Gewirtz said. “He would talk about his work or the people he would run into everyday in the line of duty. We were at a wedding a few weeks before he passed away and all he would talk about is how much he loved his job and was looking forward to his upcoming wedding to his fiancée Nikki Salgot.”

Rose, a Richland native, was mortally wounded during a street investigation Nov. 22, 2016. He died the following evening. Raymond Durham was later arrested and charged with his murder. He was found incompetent to stand trial several times. In December 2018, a district court judge dismissed all charges against Durham because he couldn’t be returned to competency. He remains in the Center for Forensic Psychiatry for criminal defendants adjudicated incompetent to stand trial or acquitted by not guilty by reason of insanity.

“I just knew that after he passed away, we needed to find some way to memorialize Collin,” Gewirtz said. “I reached out to Collin’s fiancée to ask what stretch of the highway she wanted. We nailed down the stretch of highway by Wayne State University where people would make the connection of Collin … because Collin worked in that space and lived over there. I  wanted something that would be visual for anybody driving past it to always see Collin’s name in that stretch of highway for that area he was protecting. I think about him every single day.”

While lawyers were arguing for the criminal case to proceed, legislators pushed the highway naming legislation through the lame duck session Dec. 20, 2018. Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law six days later designating a portion of M-10 from 94 to Grand River Avenue as “Sgt. Collin Rose Memorial Highway.”

Despite the legislative approval, supporters of the sign were unaware of the financial element of highway naming legislation. The state quoted a placement cost of $12,000. Gewirtz and WSU Police Officer Chris Powell,  a close friend of Rose’s, negotiated with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and were able to place the sign for $3,000.

“It’s on a busy highway,” she said. “It needs to be supported by sturdy beams and large enough for drivers to safely read.”

Additional fundraising was necessary to make up the cost difference, so Gewirtz turned again to the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation, spearheaded by Powell and Rose’s coworkers. Since his death, several memorial fundraisers have been held in Rose’s honor. The Foundation honors Rose through various activities supporting K9s and fallen officers.

Rose’s hometown of Richland and Wayne State University also erected flag pole memorials in Collin’s honor. “We moved into our new station 11 years ago and didn’t have a flag pole until now. It’s pretty great to see the flag flying out there and associate it with Collin,” Powell said.  Rose Dog Park was also named in his honor in the Woodbridge neighborhood where he patrolled.

Powell and Rose’s family continue to monitor Durham’s case, checking in with the district court every 90 days to ensure Durham is not released. “It’s not the day in court we were hoping for, but we’re still optimistic he will be held accountable for Collin’s death,” Powell said.

Sgt. Collin Rose made a lasting impression on those who knew him and they’re making sure he will not be forgotten. “I wanted people to remember him and know that he gave up his life for the campus and surrounding neighborhoods he was protecting,” Gewirtz said.

Click here for more information about the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation.

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