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Patrol unit became Fort Worth residents' show of respect for fallen officer

Posted Aug. 29, 2019

police cruiser with signatures
Residents' messages turned a police vehicle into a permanent show of love and support for first responders.

On Dec. 1, 2005, Officer Henry “Hank” Nava died from a gunshot wound he suffered two days earlier while serving an arrest warrant.

While his fellow officers were grieving, Fort Worth residents began to honor Nava with an incredible outpouring of support. They lined the entire route of the longest funeral procession of police vehicles seen in some time.

Nava’s patrol captain, Bill Read, ordered that Nava’s patrol car be parked at the corner of Ellis Avenue and 25th Street to allow residents an opportunity to say goodbye. Dozens of stuffed animals, notes and other items of remembrance were left on and around the car.

Then someone took a marker and wrote a message of thanks and sympathy directly on the police car. Then someone else wrote another message, then another and another. What emerged was an astounding tribute to Nava’s life, service and sacrifice.

To preserve the car as a tribute, the decision was made in 2007 to loan the vehicle to the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum in Titusville, Florida. (The Fort Worth Police Department did not have a suitable location to put the vehicle on display at the time.)

Now, a dozen years later, the car is returning to Fort Worth.

Beginning Aug. 30, the patrol car will be stationed in the lobby of the Police and Fire Administration building at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex, 505 W. Felix St. The display will honor Nava and others who have made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to Fort Worth.

The patrol unit will be displayed at 2500 N. Houston St., Nava’s old sector, between 8-9 a.m. Aug. 30. A ceremonial escort will then lead the vehicle to its official unveiling at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex between 9-10 a.m.

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