12 May Honoring Fallen Police officers

Big Statues has been involved with several monuments to fallen officers over the year. We are proud to announce the our latest police bronze statue in Pearland, Texas it will be unveiled this Saturday in honor of Police week. Police organizations all over the country are dedicated to honoring the men and women that risk their lives everyday to protect communities nationwide. In Salt lake city the efforts have been wonderful.

Salt Lake County honors courageous cops
May 11th, 2010 @ 6:14pm
By Jed Boal

SALT LAKE CITY — Tuesday, Salt Lake County honored its police officers who died in the line of duty over the years, and those who stepped up and served with distinction.

Each year the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, which is now the Unified Police Department, pays tribute to the deputies who died in the line of duty. At a separate ceremony, the department honored officers who showed great courage. Among those, several officers who helped take down a dangerous shooter.

On June 26, 2009, at the Cottonwood Apartment complex, a man on a balcony fired off about a dozen shots.

“He had been firing at random through apartments while we were still pinned down by gunfire,” said Unified police Sgt. Lex Bell, also the incident commander that day.

Bell says situations that dangerous are rare.

“Ongoing imminent threat of death, what they call an active shooter scenario: the Trolley Square. This is the same thing,” Bell said.

Officers contained that threat, and Bell courageously saved an injured worker trapped in a stairwell. Meantime, Unified police Sgt. Randy Thomas was called on to get into position with his weapon.

“I could still hear shots being fired,” Thomas said. “I could tell it was an active and very dynamic situation. So, I was basically required to gear up and go toward the sound of gunfire.”

When the suspect raised his gun towards SWAT members, Thomas killed the suspect with a single shot.

“It’s unfortunate to have to take a man’s life,” Thomas said. “That’s probably the hard part of this; but it is nice to be amongst colleagues and be recognized for a situation you had to step into.”

Both men say they followed their training and did their jobs. Both received the Medal of Distinction.

Earlier in the day, Sheriff Jim Winder honored two officers killed in the line of duty in two other counties.

“The last several months in law enforcement in the state of Utah have been extremely difficult,” Winder said.

No Salt Lake County officers have died in years, but other counties have felt the pain. Millard County Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox was gunned down in the line of duty in January. Sevier County Sheriff’s Sgt. Franco Aguilar died while helping at a traffic accident along Interstate 70 two weeks ago. Winder attended both funerals.

“They brought forward a sea of emotion that I still feel today,” Winder said.

The sheriff praised their choices to serve their communities, in spite of danger.

“They run towards the danger when others run away,” Winder said. “They’re protecting something. They’re protecting our society and culture, but they do so with a full heart and full knowledge of the risks.”

Salt Lake County has not lost an officer in the line of duty in many years. Eleven deputies and two crossing guards have died in the line of duty in the more than 150 year history of the department.

The department honored about 80 officers, civilians and volunteers Tuesday. Others honored include a deputy who rescued three people from a burning home, the all-volunteer Salt Lake/Carbon county cadaver dog team and the family crimes unit — which investigates cases involving child abuse, sexual abuse, elder abuse, domestic violence and missing persons.

Winder also honored Esekia Afatasi with the Deputy of the Year Award for working to reduce youth gang involvement.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

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