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Plaque keeps fallen officer’s memory, local history alive

August 16, 2012

Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter unveils a plaque memorializing Richard Perkins’ dedication to preserving the area’s history. Sheriff’s Sergeant Phil West (with horse) had the idea of memorializing his friend and fellow officer’s efforts while researching some local history for the Sheriff’s Department. Photo by Mike Gervais

Eleven years to the day since Bishop Police Officer Richard E. Perkins was killed in the line of duty, local law enforcement and community leaders gathered to honor their friend and recognize his contributions to the community.
In addition to being an 11-year veteran of the city’s police force, Perkins was a member of the Bishop Mural Society and artist, and had an interest in local history.
Earlier this year, peace officers’ associations from several local jurisdictions donated the funds to have a plaque created in memory of Perkins and his efforts to help beautify Bishop and preserve its history.
Wednesday morning, members of those peace officers’ associations, his former colleagues, City of Bishop Council members and other officials, and his friends and family gathered on Main Street as the plaque was dedicated where it now hangs on the east-facing wall of Joseph’s Bi-Rite Market.
According to Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter and Inyo County Sheriff’s Sergeant Phil West, who served with Perkins on the Bishop Police Department’s Mounted Patrol and was a close friend, Perkins was one of only a few residents who was aware of several brass rings installed in the Main Street sidewalk in 1908 to serve as a hitch for horse teams.
When Caltrans announced a plan to rehabilitate and widen Main Street through town, it was Perkins who contacted Caltrans in 1994 and requested that the historic rings not be removed.
“Because of Officer Perkins’ inquiry, the curbing and tether rings from 1908 remain today,” Carter said. “This is part of Bishop’s history, and he brought attention to it.”
That history has been included on the plaque and is now available for anyone to read about as they pass by one of the actual rings still embedded in the Bishop concrete.
Perkins is also credited with the idea, concept and completion of the “Dangerous Arrest” mural on the east side of the police station that depicts a historical shoot-out in Bishop’s pioneer days.
Along with West and another local law enforcement officer, Perkins was instrumental in starting the Mounted Patrol Unit.
Perkins died Aug. 15, 2001 when a semi-truck struck his patrol car as he made a U-turn on U.S. 395 to assist in a pursuit of a possible drunk driver. Perkins died of his injuries at Northern Inyo Hospital.
He was 51.

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