Today marks 26 years since an off-duty police officer was killed as he tried to foil an armed robbery on a bank security van in Hemel Hempstead.
Colleagues and friends of Frank Mason gathered for the annual memorial service to mark the death of the selfless police constable, who was shot in the back as he tried to arrest one of the robbers outside Barclays in the town’s Bank Court on April 14, 1988.
Mayor of Dacorum Penny Hearn, borough councillor Neil Harden and deputy police and crime commissioner David Gibson were among those who turned out to pay their respects this afternoon. Staff from the bank also laid wreaths.
Dacorum’s Chief Insp Glen Channer, addressing the crowd, said: “The events that happened here more than two decades ago are a reminder to us all that it is not just the uniform that makes a truly outstanding police officer, it is that instinct to do the right thing, regardless of the circumstances they are faced with.
“The word hero is often used somewhat casually, but here there can be no doubt that Frank was a hero.
“He is still very much at the forefront of our thoughts – we can be proud of him and proud of the sacrifice that he made for the safety of others.
“The loss to his family is immense, we at the Constabulary lost a colleague and a friend, and the community lost a truly devoted public servant. We will never forget him and the courage he showed that day.”
Since Frank’s death, aged just 27, the Dacorum force has awarded the Frank Mason Award to an outstanding officer.
This year PC Dale Jenkins was given the honour for his enthusiasm and quick-thinking reactions in dangerous situations, including an incident where a fellow officer was hit by joyriders in a stolen car in the town in February.
PC Jenkins, 27, lives in Hemel Hempstead and has worked for the force for more than seven years, with his first two serving as a PCSO.
He said: “It is an amazing honour. For officers working in Dacorum, the Frank Mason trophy is the top award to win and something I had always aimed for. I am very pleased to receive it.”
Bus company Arriva also arranged for one of its brand new buses to drive to Bank Court for the service. The bus is named Frank in honour of PC Mason, and is one of seven in a fleet named after Hemel Hempstead heroes chosen by the public.