Memorial for fallen Buffalo police officer goes missing

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — James Shields loved what he did: getting to follow in the footsteps of his father by becoming a cop.

“He learned from the old school,” James’ sister Noelle Dugas said. “You know, when you see a kid you bend down and give them a little badge and make them feel good.”

To his loved ones, he was Jimmy – the caring guy who, above all, lived for his family.

Officer Shields died on Oct. 30, 2002 when his patrol car crashed into a tree as he and his partner, Officer Kimberly Monteforte, were chasing down a robbery call. Officer Monteforte survived.

“In our minds, whether consciously or subconsciously to avoid other cars, he overcompensated so he got the brunt [of the crash] and not his partner,” Dugas said.

Each year, Jimmy’s family visits a memorial near the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Bryant Street – the site of the crash.

For 18 years, his sister says she’s been able to tell where Bryant was by looking over and seeing the black and blue ribbon wrapped around the tree. But as they approached Friday, the anniversary of his death, Jimmy’s mother and sisters realized something was wrong: the memorial was no longer there.

Dugas said her mother is devastated knowing the memorial is missing and not knowing what happened to it. The only thing left was a plaque that reads “If love could have saved you, you could have lived forever.”

His family is now looking for answers while finding other ways to honor Jimmy.

“You never want to say goodbye, this [the memorial] was definitely ‘in one way or another, you’re going to live forever because you will never be forgotten,” Dugas said.

Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo says the anniversary of an officer dying in the line of duty is always a sad say, and that the Buffalo Police Dept. is looking into the missing memorial.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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