By Cassidy Hansen
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY—Law officers from across the State of Utah assembled late last week to participate in a Salute to Law and Order and to discuss recent media coverage of law enforcement.
Officers from the Utah National Guard, Utah Highway Patrol, sheriff departments, city police departments, and firefighters attended the event designed to show appreciation in the wake of negative media coverage concerning Utah officers in recent incidents.
During the salute, family and friends of fallen officers reflected on the heroes’ lives, their love for their families, and the citizens they serve.
“They are not just police officers, but peace officers,” said Kristie Beesley, wife of fallen UHP officer Aaron Beesley. “They are here to protect us from harm and to help us live a peaceful life.”
Iron County Commissioner, Dale Brinkerhoff, said he created this event in response to the negative media coverage of Utah officers, and to alleviate the negative pressure officers were receiving from the public. Brinkerhoff spoke of email from an officer who described the situation of police officers as “We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t.”
The pressure officers feel is real, said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, recalling a conversation with an officer after the State of the State address. The officer expressed feelings of disappointment because the people he was trying to protect often distrust and possibly distaste their officers.
“The voices of criticism of law enforcement are louder than ever. To cast dispersions at a group of public servants who do jobs that most citizens wouldn’t or couldn’t do is wrong,” Reyes said.
Other speakers also addressed corruption and the need for officers who engage in wrongful acts to be punished; however, officers who are ethical in their exercise of authority and in following the laws should not worry about the negativity of the media and the citizenry.
“There is more good out there than bad, if we can just start showing the good,” said Nannette Wride quoting her late husband, Sergeant Cory Wride.
Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney added, “They don’t do it for the glory, they don’t do it for the glamour. They do it because they have heart and soul.”
While attitudes toward officers are frequently negative, said Logan Chief of Police, Officer Gary Jensen, fortunately, Logan police officers feel they have a great community and a citizens that appreciate them. Jensen also reminded the audience that we should still seize opportunities to show appreciation for officers.
“The law officer community is a proud and well-meaning group of people who need the respect and support of the community,” he said.