DOWNERS GROVE — Downers Grove police displayed black bands on their badges and black ribbons on their squad car antennas Monday to mark the 39th anniversary of the death of Richard Barth, a Downers Grove officer who was killed in the line of duty.
On March 18, 1974, Barth was handling what appeared to be a "routine call" of two suspicious youths in what is now known as Hoopers Hollow Park, Downers Grove Police Chief Robert Porter recalled in a department letter last week.
"While he was questioning the youths, one of the subjects, Paul Fontani, produced a handgun and fatally shot Officer Barth," Porter wrote. "The two suspects were later arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. Unfortunately, both of the subjects are now out of prison."
In Porter's letter, which was addressed to all police department staff, he recognized Barth's sacrifice among the 19,000 officers who have "made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our nation's streets."
He also asked officers to exercise caution, diligence and professionalism as they carried out their duties.
"Please keep in mind that no call should ever be considered a 'routine assignment,'" he wrote.
Porter also asked officers to observe a moment of silence during roll call to honor Barth "as well as all of our fallen brothers and sisters who have given their lives in order to make this world a better place."