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Fallen cops memorial signs denied by NYSDOT

Brighton, N.Y. Through the Monroe County area, there are about twenty signs posted along roads to honor fallen law enforcement officers who died near that area in the line of duty.

However, you wont be able to find these signs on any state roads or highways.

Justin Collins, the president of the Badge of Honor Association, says its been frustrating because there are about half a dozen signs they want to post, but cant.

We had a ceremony and the signs are all made, Collins explains. People supported this, but the signs never made it up. We continue to do dedications out in Syracuse and Buffalo, but we asked why the Monroe County Sheriff deputies signs aren't up. We revisited the issue and thats when the New York State DOT gave us the rejection letter.

Collins said that there are six fallen Monroe County Sheriffs deputies his organization would like to honor by posting these signs. He says the Badge of Honor Association was led to believe that if the signs were the right size and color standards set by the NYSDOT, they would be able to post them.

But the NYSDOT said no.

[The NYSDOT said] anything that doesn't direct a traffic movement or direct you to do something on the road, the sign cant go up, he said.

Lori Maher with the NYSDOT explains why.

We get a lot of requests to posts signs, Maher explains. Requests for advertising, businesses, welcome to here and home of the champions or things like that. [If we allow all these signs], we can have a lot of distractions and a lot of clutter and possibly maintenance problems.

Maher says the NYSDOT has strict guidelines and policies they have to adhere to and cannot approve most sign requests because of safety concerns.

Collins understands these explanations but believes that an exception should be made for these memorial signs.

These are police officers who serve the community, he explained. They wouldn't have chosen to be on the roads [when they died]. We have to do things as police officers that most people would not do and would not want to do.

Plus, he believes there are plenty of signs along state roads and highways right now that are not necessary. For example, the signs that say Help Truck Sponsored by: State Farm or Monroe County In Bloom.

Maher explains that there are exceptions the NYSDOT makes for programs.

You only see those in certain areas, you don't see them all over the place, she said. They are regulated in a place and they are a certain size, shape.

She says that while the memorial signs are for a noble and just cause, the NYSDOT cannot grant it permission to post them up.

I do want to emphasis that it has nothing to do with the topic of this particular sign or memorial. The fact that this is such a noble thing or a civic-minded thing makes it hard for us to deny [it].

However, the fight isnt over for Collins or the Badge of Honor Association.

It really is a no brainer and that's why we're not going to go away, he said. We're going to fight. We believe in this. We know these men and women died in the line of duty and serving this community. They deserve to be recognized. We think the signs are a fitting tribute.

Collins adds that the New York State Police would also like to recognize their fallen troopers with signs, but his organization can't work with state police on this project until the issue with NYSDOT is resolved.

Collins says his organization is reaching out to state lawmakers to see if something can change.

He says their cause has the full support of the Monroe County Sheriffs Office Association of Retirees. 

There is also an online petition circulating online to try and get NYSDOT to make an exception for the Badge of Honor Association.

Angela Hong, 13WHAM-TV
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