A memorial sign has gone up along Willis Street to honor Mike Buckingham for his work with the Kent Police and fire departments to combat drunk driving.
Kent Police officers, Mayor Dana Ralph, Kent City Council members, Washington State Patrol troopers and members of the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority dedicated the sign on Tuesday. The sign is on the north side of Willis Street, just west of Fourth Avenue South, and faces westbound traffic.
Buckingham, a former State Patrol trooper, died of cancer in 2014 at the age of 61. He lived in Enumclaw.
Buckingham helped establish and served for more than 30 years on the Kent Police Department’s Drinking Driver Task Force. In 2001 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for his many contributions.
In 1981, Buckingham was severely burned when his patrol car and a drunk driver’s vehicle he was pursing crashed into each other. Because of the severity of his burns, he was never able to return to active police duty, dedicating his life instead to other forms of public safety.
He developed the Kent Traffic School in 2005 and later became its coordinator. He also was an active participant with the Gift of Life program put on by the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.
The State Patrol created the Mike Buckingham Award that goes to State Patrol employees who have been involved in a critical incident and suffered significant physical injuries.
“Mike Buckingham believed that whether you are a commissioned police officer, a public safety professional, or just an average citizen, everyone has the ability in some way to make an impact and help prevent needless impaired driving related injuries and deaths,” Kent Police said in a Facebook post. “Mike is an inspiration to us all.”