DAVIDSON, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Christmas Day marks 20 years since a Davidson police officer was killed in the line of duty. The department is working to keep his memory alive, but their plan was rejected.
Officer Mark Swaney worked with the Davidson Police Department for two years. On Christmas Day in 1997, he went to work early so a fellow officer could spend time with his children. An hour into his shift he was shot and killed.
“We don’t ever want his memory to fade. The sacrifice that he made and lost his life in the line of duty,” said Davidson Police Chief Penny Dunn.
He’s the only officer killed in the line of duty in Davidson. Swaney’s picture hangs on a wall inside the police department. Outside a tree wrapped in blue lights dons a banner in his honor.
“They described him as an eager officer who was very enthusiastic about the job that he did.”
To honor and recognize his sacrifice, an application was submitted to name the bridge at exit 30 off I-77 after Swaney.
“This is the bridge to Davidson. It’s the overpass, it’s the exit into Davidson. It doesn’t go anyplace else except down Griffith Street.”
But the application was denied. A NC-DOT spokesperson tells FOX 46 Charlotte that Swaney was a municipal employee therefore, the application doesn’t meet the requirements for a state bridge to be named in his honor. It’s also not recognized as an extraordinary circumstance because he was not killed on the bridge. However, a municipal structure could be renamed.
“I’m just hoping that, that was their initial review and that perhaps after we had a little discussion about the incident and our strong desire to get this bridge designated that maybe it’ll have another review process and we can move forward from there.”
Swaney’s sister, Gina Swaney Bouknight, released this statement:
“I want to thank Sergeant Scott Searcy for the idea of naming the bridge in Mark’s honor and wish to thank the Davidson Police Department’s for their efforts to make this happen. Mark died doing what he loved. He always wanted to be a police officer from the time he was a small child, following in his father’s footsteps. He was the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back. He loved the Davidson community and did his best as a guardian for all her citizens.”