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West Valley City Journal

Police Department Honors ‘Fallen Heroes,’ Families

Jul 15, 2016 09:22AM ● By Bryan Scott

Salt Lake County sheriff James Winder speaks with his wife after the memorial service at the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Winder spoke during the service about the importance of moving on. —Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Moving on can be difficult but it’s something, Salt Lake County Sheriff James Winder said, that helps the healing.

An annual memorial service was held on May 18 outside the office of the Salt Lake County Sheriff at their memorial site to honor its fallen members. The service was sponsored by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Mutual Aid Association (SLSMAA).

“We’re not just an organization, we’re a family,” Winder said.

A service is held every year to honor those who have died in the line-of-duty. The number rose from 15 to 16 this year.

Officer Doug Barney was added to the service this year as he was killed on Jan. 17 pursuing a suspect. It’s the first addition to the service in 22 years.

Winder expressed his empathy to the family members of fallen officers and presented the Barney family with a plaque in honor of Barney.

“This year’s been rough, more so on the family than anybody else,” Winder said.

Sergeant Jeff Evans, president of SLSMAA, said each name on the memorial site represents acts of selflessness by those sworn to protect the community. He said it’s important not to forget the families.

“Sometimes forgotten is the terrible loss to [the officers’] families, we must ensure their stories and sacrifices are never forgotten,” Evans said.

The program included a roll call from SLSMAA president Jeff Evans and remarks from Winder before closing with the laying of the wreath and 21-gun salute.

Evans told the story of each officer and crossing guard during the roll call with Deputy Rodney Badger the first officer to pass in 1853 and Barney the newest. Five officers died in the span of one week in 1913.

“A lot of things have changed over the years in law enforcement, but one thing has not changed, and that is the good, dedicated, courageous spirit of those who are sworn to protect and serve,” Evans said. Winder said these memorials they hold every year are meant for people to get together and talk rather than dwell on the grief.  

“It’s like getting the family back together in the site where grandpa used to fish where you go and you sit and talk,” Winder said. “It’s not denying that it happened but it’s rejoicing [of the officers’ lives], that’s what I think we should do each and every year we come to this memorial.”

Winder said it’s his own personal philosophy to have a balance in the grieving process between sorrow and commemoration of the lives that were lived. He shared the experience of when he was younger having his aunt and uncle always talk about family members who came before them.

“What they were saying… is we got to remember the good things about those that had come before us so we got to build on it,” Winder said. “That’s the whole reason to talk about your family, it’s not sorrowfully but to remember who they were, what they did and move on. It’s not enough to simply mourn.”

Referencing the garden being planted on the grounds, Winder compared the flowers in the garden to humans.

“We watch those flowers in awe…they’re providing this beauty and they’re amazing to behold, but flowers don’t last forever,” Winder said. “Imagine if every time the flowers went away we went home, closed our doors and never planted another seed. The world would be a terrible place.”

Winder concluded the service with a reminder about the future.

“As sorrowful and as hard as it is, let’s think about the future, let’s support the families of our fallen…and encourage us all to look to a new day,” Winder said.