Slain Whitehall police officer Terry McDowell has always been in the hearts and minds of the community he served.

His legacy will reach the next generation of police officers and residents when a new annex to the Whitehall Division of Police, 365 S. Yearling Road, is named in his honor.

"It means so much that his name will always be etched in the hearts of the community this way," said his son, Seth McDowell, a Union County Sheriff's deputy who was 8 years old when his father was fatally shot -- and his partner, officer Eric Brill, was shot and critically injured -- while serving a traffic summons to a Beechbank Road residence Aug. 24, 2001.

Whitehall police Chief Mike Crispen and Mayor Kim Maggard announced the naming of the annex in McDowell's honor Aug. 24 at the start of the annual memorial for McDowell at the corner of Little Flower and Saint Francis lanes, where Norton Field residents have built a permanent marker on a landscaped traffic island they continue to maintain.

"No one but us knew," Maggard said Aug. 25, adding Crispen approached her with the suggestion about a month ago.

"It was important to us that Terry's service and sacrifice be attached to a brick-and-mortar building as a reminder to all safety forces that they are appreciated and we honor what they do," Maggard said.

Maggard said the city's budget in 2018 will include a yet-to-be-determined amount for an architect to design an expansion for the existing police headquarters.

The expansion is needed, Crispen said, to house additional officers and new technology for a growing department.

"I'm overjoyed that they want to do something like this to substantially remember (Terry)," said his widow, Angie McDowell.

Shortly after his death, Angie McDowell founded Get Behind the Badge, a nonprofit organization that provides material support for the families of police officers killed or critically injured in the line of duty.

"It's a way for me to give back," she said. "Sometimes it can take a little while for benefits to begin (and) no one should have to worry (about a mortgage) at a times like that."

Additionally, McDowell said she's always there to support the grieving.

"I remember the feeling. Being a shoulder to cry on helps get me through the other 364 days," said McDowell, adding that Aug. 24 "never gets any easier."

"There's one day I just don't do well and it's this day ... but what makes it just a little bearable is that you all come out here and you all remember him," she said.

Brill, McDowell's partner that day, said "the pain is still there" after 16 years.

"The memories are still there, everything that occurred on that Friday night is still there," said Brill, who lost sight in one eye and retired from the department after the shooting.

On that night in August 2001, McDowell and Brill went to a Beechbank Road residence to issue a traffic citation to a woman for driving without a license.

The woman had driven to the police station that morning to pick up her husband, who had been arrested for driving while intoxicated.

When it was discovered she had no license, police instructed both of them to walk home, but the woman returned a short time later and drove away.

Officers were knocking on the door when her husband, without any warning, fired a .357-caliber handgun through the door, striking McDowell in his chest, just above his vest.

The man immediately fired a second shot at Brill, striking him in the eye, but Brill was able to call for assistance.

The gunman, standing over McDowell, fired a third and fatal shot, then retreated to the backyard of the residence, where he briefly exchanged gunfire with police before committing suicide.

The man's gun was linked to an open murder, having been stolen from his neighbor, a gun collector who was found dead in his apartment.

Yet, Brill said, positive outcomes evolved from the tragedy, including the founding of Get Behind the Badge.

Remembering McDowell is carried on in other ways, too, perhaps most notably through his daughter, Taylor, and his son, Seth, who began law school to become an attorney before deciding to become a police officer like his dad.

He briefly served in Hilliard before joining the Union County Sheriff's Office in August 2016.

Each day on patrol, tucked behind his gold star, is a black mourning band that officers wear on shields when any officer dies in the line of duty.

McDowell's band is stitched with a white "32," his father's badge number.

"My dad is always with me," he said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo