I am writing this letter after attending the funeral for Officer Jeremiah Johnson. As my wife and I walked into the LDS stake center in Castle Dale that Saturday morning many bittersweet memories came back to me. Seeing all of the officers of Emery County that served with Jeremiah, the Highway Patrol officers, the Motorcycle Squad of Salt Lake City and the many other officers from all around the state was so very overwhelming. As we sat and listened to the speakers, I was overcome with emotions of the past for me. You see, my father served on the Provo Police Department for almost 25 years at the time of his death. Provo City officers did an Honor Guard for him at his funeral. There were officers there also from all over the state. I have never forgotten the proud feeling I felt as our family walked under their rifles that were held high above our heads.
That was 18 years ago. As I sat and listened and watched, I could see the police officers and was proud that they had come to be there for their fallen officer. As I watched, Emery County officers and their wives would cry at times and laugh at times and hold each other closely. It struck me that most of us don't realize what these men and women do for us and what they are willing to give up for us just to allow us to live in a very safe community.
I watched Kay Jensen's wife and Mike Jorgensen's wife cry and hold onto their husbands. I thought, "How hard it has to be to know every time they leave for work they put their very lives on the line for us so we can live in a quiet safe place.
" I remember my mother telling me one time that she never told my dad Good-Bye, she'd say, "I'll see you at 5 or 11," whenever his shift would end. She had to do that just for herself.
We, the people of Emery County, owe so much to these men and women. They answer calls at all hours, 365 days a year just for us. A police officer may only work an eight hour shift but they are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Jeremiah was on his way home that morning when he was in an accident. We will never know for sure what happened to cause that, but we do know he had spent his shift patrolling and protecting us so that we could sleep and live in peace and safety. They do a job that most of us could not do. They see battered children and wives, and accidents that take lives. They deal with drunks and drug peddlers and so on...never knowing if the next one they pull over might just as soon use a gun. These men and women deserve our respect. They earn it every day.
The next time you see a deputy, even if your don't know him or her, say "Hi" or "Thanks." They need to know that we support them and appreciate them for what they do for us. Are they different from the rest of us? You bet they are! Every time they put that uniform on they become a target. They take a chance of losing their lives just because they are policemen.
We read about it and watch it on T.V. every day of officers losing their lives for pulling over a speeding car. The driver may have a warrant for an unpaid ticket, so he shoots the officer. Drug runners that would kill rather than go to jail or lose the drugs. Yes, police officers are different. They risk their lives every day for each of us.
My dad was a cop. I was proud of him then and I am still proud of him. We all should be proud of our Emery County officers. They do a job most of us could not do and they ask very little. They don't get rich or famous but it is my opinion that every one of them deserves our respect.
Jeremiah was shown that respect last Saturday. A police officer should not have to give up his life for us to treat him with respect and honor. We should have the attitude that we do care about them and that we are grateful for the job they do for us.