Just days following the murders of Officers Shelton and Clark Charlotte morning radio hosts Ace and TJ from Kiss 95.1 took to the airways urging people to donate their time, money and services to help build parks to honor these fine Officers and the sacrifice they made that tragic night. The radio station contacted the City of Locust regarding the possibility of building a park in Locust to honor Jeff.
The idea was to have two parks built in the communities where Jeff and Sean lived. The committee of people who worked tirelessly on this project made sure this park was truly a living tribute to the man Jeff was. The result was a beautiful park full of stories and pictures of who Jeff was both in and out of uniform.
In the midst of tragedy, a magnificent park facility grew from the grief and teamwork of a group of strangers who came together to build a park that truly reflected who Jeff was. We are forever grateful to all the people and businesses that contributed to build a peaceful place to reflect on life, be grateful for everyday pleasures and spend quality time with family and friends.
In 2008, the Officer Jeff Shelton Foundation’s creation and main purpose was work with the City of Locust to help grow the park and to ensure the vision and integrity that was present during the design and building of the park would always remain. However, due to political reasons beyond the control of the foundation, we sadly have had to withdraw our financial support of the park. Below is an explanation from Jeff’s widow, Jennifer Shelton, in her own words.
Message from Jennifer Shelton
In 2007, when Jeff was murdered and the City of Locust approached me regarding building the Officer Jeff Shelton Memorial Park, I had serious reservations about allowing Jeff’s name to be put on this or any project. After meeting with representatives from the City of Locust as well as Ace, TJ, Pete Herrick and their Kiss 95.1 team, I was sure this would be a partnership and project I would be proud to have tied to Jeff and his legacy. I was involved in everything from design, to equipment, to the breathtaking memorial area, to opening day and everything in between.
I trusted all of these people; the group that became the main team along with the City of Locust. For many years following the park’s creation, those feelings remained.
However, in July 2014, the City of Locust administration and elected officials decided I would no longer have a voice or input into the park that bears my late husband’s name.
The creation of the Officer Jeff Shelton Foundation was originally to maintain the vision and integrity of the Officer Jeff Shelton Memorial Park located in Locust, NC. The funds raised by the Foundation were spent towards continuing the growth and vision of the Officer Jeff Shelton Memorial Park as well as funding scholarship opportunities for students majoring in criminal justice at Stanly Community College.
I silently struggled with the decision handed down by City of Locust administration and elected officials that for lack of a better term, shut me out of the park. It was the complete opposite of the “handshake” agreement we had lived by since 2007. I quietly tried to work through the issues with City officials and reach a mutual agreement that would allow me to stay involved with the park that has Jeff’s name. A park that I helped design and build. However, the City made it clear that they did not want me involved and were not willing to work with me.
In January 2015, I released a letter detailing the issues and problems related to the City of Locust’s stance on my involvement in the Officer Jeff Shelton Memorial Park. I felt the release of this letter was important for several reasons. Two of the most important reasons were that I had nothing to do with the condition of the park and that the Foundation was not financially contributing to the park due to the City’s new stance on park related activities and issues.
In an effort to work with the City, I agreed to sign a joint statement in February 2015 saying we were both re-committing to work together to honor Jeff. Part of this agreement was that this statement would be the only statement released by all parties. So again, I remained silent and tried my best to work with the very people who had made sure my opinions and thoughts on the park were of no consequence any longer.
However, the City has not lived up to the words or the intent of this joint statement and reassurance that we would work together. The City of Locust has continued on the path they started in July 2014 which remains that they no longer want my help or involvement with the park nor do they wish to involve the Foundation. Due to these political circumstances beyond my control and armed with this information, the Officer Jeff Shelton Foundation was forced to make a financial decision and we have not given any funds to the City of Locust or the Officer Jeff Shelton Memorial Park since the City’s decision in July 2014.
It is my sincere hope that this will not always be the case. My prayers are that one day, in the not too distant future, the administration and elected officials of the City of Locust will once again welcome my input into this memorial park that bears my late husband’s name. My goals and intentions have never changed; I want to protect Jeff’s name and legacy by honoring him.
The creation of this park was based on kindness of strangers, local businesses and so many wonderful people who all contributed to the construction of the Officer Jeff Shelton Memorial Park. People and businesses donated their time and money to show honor and respect for a man who put on a badge each day to protect his community and tragically did not make it back home to his family one morning.
Widow of CMPD Officer Jeff Shelton