Occasionally while doing a study on some subject related to criminal justice history, I’ll find some hint in the old records related to a long forgotten, undocumented fallen police officer. When that happens, I pick up the evidentiary traces and follow the trail back through the old sources, to make sure the officer’s ultimate sacrifice isn’t forgotten in the mist of time.
Over the decades, I have found officers in Wilmington, Clayton, and Crisfield who fell in the line of duty, but were never listed on national, state, or local memorials or remembered in their community. Usually when the tragic occurrence is pointed out and the facts around the incident have been sorted out, an officer or retiree from the department picks it up from there, making sure that the individual’s ultimate sacrifice is honored and recognized by the agency and the community the officer served.
Right now a Wilmington Police Department retiree is working to get Officer Charles Schultz listed on the official record. The patrolman gave his life while serving the citizens of Wilmington more than a century ago. The tragic death in 1891 caused a sensation at the time but once he was lowered into his grave memory faded as generations passed and the lawman was largely forgotten except for headlines in old yellowing newspapers at the Delaware Public Archives.
It’s important not to forget those who gave everything to the communities they served. So it is good to see them finally honored and remembered, as their names are formally added to the department’s roll and etched on the memorials. Now it’s going to happen in Wilmington as this retired officer takes on that task.