WEST COVINA – To the thousands of motorists that speed along the San Bernardino (10) Freeway through West Covina every day, the shiny new signs will be just another sad reminder of a fallen officer, one of many encountered along the Southland’s highways. But to the nearly 100 friends, family and former co-workers who gathered in front of the West Covina Police Department on Monday, the large, green signposts memorializing West Covina Police Officer Kenneth Scott Wrede are much more than that. They are the ultimate tribute to a man they described as a devoted son and husband, a vibrant young professional with a great sense of humor who sacrificed his life for his fellow citizens. The signs, purchased with funds from the West Covina Police Officers Association and private donations, are being installed on the westbound portion of the 10 freeway near the Grand Avenue exit and the eastbound side of the freeway near the Vincent Avenue offramp. Wrede was killed on Aug. 31, 1983, less than four minutes after arriving at the corner of Francisquito Avenue and Glenview Road to check out a report about a man acting suspiciously. The suspect, who was high on PCP, struggled with Wrede and then reached into the squad car, ripped a shotgun from its bracket and fatally shot the officer. Wrede was 26 at the time. Monday’s dedication ceremony took place on what would have been Wrede’s 50th birthday. A West Covina Police Department color guard opened the ceremony, in front of the Police Department’s memorial for fallen officers. “This may seem like just another public walkway, and it is,” said West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills, standing in front of a plaque listing Wrede’s name and the city’s two other fallen officers, Fredrick J. Hamm and Jay W. Jackson. “But in reality, to us this is our most sacred site.” Wills said that Wrede’s memory has not faded at the department, as those who knew him have passed on stories about the affable young Chicago native to newer officers who hadn’t even been born at the time of his murder. Wrede’s father, Kenneth C. Wrede, said his son had a great sense of humor, one time convincing his father to send an exotic dancer to the police station as a joke for his fellow officers on his birthday. “Happy birthday, Kenny,” he said after telling the story, looking up at the sky and nearly breaking down. The freeway signs are a physical manifestation of the love and support the Wrede family has received from friends and the city, said Wrede’s mother, Marianne. “That is what has kept us going these 23 years, doing things we never imagined in a million years we would be doing,” said Marianne Wrede, who along with her husband has been active victims’ rights advocates. The couple established the California chapter of Concerns for Police Survivors in 1989. Denel Duprez had been married to Wrede for less than a year before he was killed. She saw the dedication as an occasion to right the many wrongs committed against Wrede and his family, including suggestions that he may have been partly responsible for his own death. “He did all the right things when he was on that call, and he is only responsible for the legacy he and other fallen officers have left us,” said Duprez, who has since remarried but remains close to the Wrede family. Wrede’s killer, Michael Anthony Jackson of Valinda, was sentenced to death for the murder in 1984. An appeals court threw out the death sentence in 2000, determining Jackson’s original defense attorney made mistakes during the penalty phase of the trial. But the death penalty was reimposed by a judge in 2002. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!