The village council heard a proposal Monday to rename North Park, the public green space at Circle Avenue and Randolph Street, in honor of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. “Remembrance Park” was the name chosen by the Forest Park Recreation Board at its meeting on April 3. The park sits in the spot of the first municipal building that housed Village Hall, a police station and fire department, built in 1915. It was torn down and replaced in 1975.
The rec board recommended the name “Remembrance” to honor “fallen-first responders of the Village of Forest Park,” they said in a memorandum to the village council.
Three Forest Park police officers and one firefighter were killed on-duty over the village’s history. Two died on the same date, September 30 in 1946 and 1982. The rec board recommended that the park be rededicated this year at a ceremony on Sept. 30.
Forest Park’s first responders killed in the line of duty are:
Officer Edward Pflaume, 29, was shot and killed on Dec. 13, 1925 as he attempted to arrest two robbery suspects. One of Al Capone’s top lieutenants, William “Three-Fingered Jack” White, was convicted of Pflaume’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Pflaume left behind a pregnant wife and had served with the Forest Park Police Department for just one year.
Police Lieutenant Herman W. Ziebell, 46, had been with the force for 20 years when he was shot during a burglary attempt behind a service station at Desplaines Ave. and Roosevelt Road on Sept. 30, 1946. One of his killers was sentenced to 199 years and the second was executed in the electric chair in 1947.
Fire Captain Frank Schnurstein suffered a fatal heart attack in the line of duty during a rescue attempt on March 28, 1969. According to articles from the Chicago Tribune, the firefighter, in his forties, climbed to the top of a ladder to reach upper apartments on a burning commercial building. “He was stricken while at the top of the ladder, and fell backward, landing on the sidewalk three stories below,” said accounts.
Finally, rookie Officer Michael Caulfield, 23, was shot and killed inside the Forest Park police station by a suspect on Sept. 30, 1982 who had been taken into custody by detectives. He had been on the force for three months. A prisoner disarmed an arresting officer and shot both Caulfield and another officer. Caulfield was killed instantly, but the other officer managed to shoot and kill the suspect.
“These brave men made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to protect the citizens of Forest Park,” said the rec board memo.