WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – A coin unites the 75 agencies and hundreds of investigators who helped Westminster police search for Jessica Ridgeway and then bring her killer to justice.
Austin Sigg pleaded guilty on Tuesday to kidnapping and killing the 10-year-old a year ago. It’s been a disturbing and emotional case for many of those involved.
CBS4’s Jennifer Brice learned about a special coin while following the Ridgeway story. Police agencies usually have their own department coin but Brice had never seen one specifically minted for a case.
It’s a first for Westminster police, and it’s their way of saying “thank you” to the men and women who helped in a 24-hour-a-day operation to find “Justice for Jessica.”
A simple gesture can sometimes go a long way.
“The coin was minted as a thank you,” Westminster Police Investigator Cheri Spottke said.
Spottke was one of two officers with the department who hand-delivered 1,800 of the commemorative coins — one to each officer who helped to find justice for Jessica.
“We delivered a coin to an ICE agent and he teared up and said he’d been having a particularly bad day … and he said that it totally made his day and changed it,” Spottke said.
One the front of the coin is the purple and green ribbon designed by Jessica’s family with the Westminster police badge in the middle and the date Jessica was kidnapped.
“On the other side is all 75 agencies that helped us; their names inscribed on the back,” Spottke said.
The Ridgeway case was the largest investigation in the history of Westminster police and they got help from across the state and nation.
“It wasn’t like any other case. We ate it, we lived it, we slept it, we breathed it for those 19 days,” Spottke said.
At times during the active investigation officers were ordered to go home because they wouldn’t leave.
So the coin is much more than a simple gesture, it’s a personal memory for a case that changed the men and women who worked to find a little girl justice.
“It touched all of us and stuff like this doesn’t happen here, it doesn’t happen in Westminster, it doesn’t happen in Colorado. She just became everyone’s little girl.”
Jessica’s family gave the department permission to use her name on the coin. They were the first people to receive it.