Chrstopher Ridley

White Plains, NY — On Monday night, the Westchester County Board of Legislators approved funding for the design and construction of a permanent memorial to Christopher Ridley, the off-duty Mount Vernon police officer who was shot and killed in January 2008 by county police as Ridley was intervening to stop an altercation in front of the county’s Department of Social Services at 85 Court Street in White Plains.

Officer Ridley, who was posthumously promoted to detective, was shot when four county police officers responded to the incident, in which Ridley, off-duty and in plain clothes, struggled to recover his gun from the person committing the assault.

A temporary plaque memorializing Ridley has been installed in front of the building at a plaza named in his honor since 2008.  At the time the intention was to erect a permanent memorial. That promise will finally be fulfilled, said Legislator Lyndon Williams (D- Mount Vernon).

“He could have walked away – he was not on duty – and he would probably be alive today, but he was not that kind of a young man,” Williams said of Ridley, who was 23 at the time. “If Christopher had walked away, the person who was being brutally assaulted would have probably been murdered or seriously injured. This memorial matters because it’s important for people in the general public to know that people make sacrifices for others.”

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D – Harrison, Scarsdale, White Plains) said, “It’s good that we’re finally bringing this legislation forward, and I’m glad to see that Legislator Williams is working with the family to ensure that we remember appropriately this young man who died while trying to help others under such terrible, tragic circumstances.”

The measure, approved unanimously by the Board on Monday, sets aside $150,000 for the design and construction of a fitting memorial.  The County will work with Ridley’s family to decide what form the memorial will take.

Most important to Detective Ridley’s father, Stanley Ridley, is that the memorial should be one that reminds people of the circumstances of his son’s death.

“Number one, people don’t know; and number two, people forget.  I can’t.  Will never,” said Stanley Ridley.

“This tragic incident happened and it just went from doing a good deed to people not realizing that [Christopher] was trying to help people,” Ridley said.

Mr. Ridley said he hopes a memorial will serve as part of a dialogue. “There needs to be a message kept for us to dwell on, but you can’t dwell on it if you don’t know the story,” he said.

Ridley said that he hopes some of the money will be used not only for a memorial but also to “refresh” the plaza that bears his son’s name in front of 85 Court Street.