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September 2, 2007

Plaque to honor fallen city police officer

CUMBERLAND — This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Cumberland Police Officer August Baker, the only city police officer ever killed in the line of duty.

Officer Baker was shot in 1907, and later died while apprehending a man for drunk and disorderly conduct in what is now the area of South Wineow Street.

According to the history of the time, Baker was sent to the rough area known as Shanty Town following reports that a man already had been thrown out of two bars and had re-entered one. When Baker arrived at the scene, he went in to arrest the suspect — who later was identified as William Burns. Baker was shot.

“At this point, Officer Baker then proceeded to knock out Burns with his billy club and restrained him until Baker passed out from loss of blood,” Cumberland Police Sgt. Jay Cochrane said. “Another citizen then restrained Burns until he was taken to jail.”

After he was shot “Officer Baker was taken by car to one hospital and refused treatment. He was then taken to another one in which he died of his wound two days later,” Cochrane said.

After Baker’s death, Burns was killed by an angry mob that broke into the jail using a telephone pole, drug him into the street and shot him to death.

To commemorate Baker’s service and honor his memory, an 18-by-24-inch granite plaque is being made.

“The granite plaque will have the image of the badge of the time on it, which has a star in the center with Cumberland City Police written around it. It will also list the year Officer Baker was born and the year he died,” Cochrane said.

The West Side Crime Watch donated the money for the plaque.

A private ceremony and dinner for the police department will be held Oct. 3. A public unveiling of the plaque is scheduled for Oct. 5 at the Cumberland Police Department.

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