In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. A joint resolution of Congress in 1962 established the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week.
Today, on National Peace Officers Memorial Day, we remember the sacrifice of law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, protecting their communities with the ultimate sacrifice.
On their list of “The Fallen,’’ the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial website mentions four men who lost their lives in service to the citizens of Tooele County.
Sgt. Lauren Dow, of the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office and Danny James, a Tooele City Animal Control Officer, lost their lives on Aug. 26, 1975 while fighting a wildfire near Stockton.
Officer Festus Sprague, of the Grantsville Police Department, died on May 3, 1870 in a gun battle with a homicide suspect.
U.S. Marshal William R. Story was shot and killed in Grantsville on May 2, 1870 while attempting to arrest a murder suspect.
We are grateful that we have had only a few law enforcement officers lose their lives in Tooele County, however we are mindful of two things: First, numbers don’t matter; each life lost is a tragedy and second, even in a small community our law enforcement officers must take caution every day; even in small communities like ours, law enforcement officers lose their lives in the line of duty with no advance warning.
The last few years have been tough on law enforcement officers; riots, negative public attitudes and pandemic fatigue. Some of these and other issues have lead to problems with retention and recruitment — leaving those that remain on the job stretched even thinner as the unthinkable, leaving community unprotected, is not an alternative that our officers want to consider.
Our law enforcement officers in Tooele County — municipal, county and federal — do a good job of keeping our community safe while respecting the rights of all people.
Next time you see a law enforcement officer, whether they be on duty at a public event, eating a hamburger at a local restaurant, sitting in a public meeting, or anywhere, just say “thank you.”
Two words that take two seconds. We should use them more often.
And you don’t have to wait for National Police Week to do it.