Thousands ride in procession honoring Utah’s fallen officers

Posted at 7:41 PM, Aug 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-16 23:26:31-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Thousands of motorcyclists joined in a 5-mile procession from Lindon to the Utah State Capitol Sunday for a memorial service honoring fallen police officers.

“It’s been almost two years–September 1st-and my son and I are doing well, thanks to you,” Shante Johnson said to the riders during the ceremony.

Johnson is the widow of fallen officer Sgt. Derek Johnson, who died after being attacked during a routine traffic stop in Draper in 2013.

Johnson thanked participants for attending the 9th annual Utah Law Enforcement Memorial Ride.

“You are how we get through,” she said. “You make their sacrifice not forgotten.”

The memorial was installed at the State Capitol in September of 2008. On Sunday, flags were staked on the lawn for each of the 130 officers who died in the line of duty. Photos of the men and women were attached to each flag.

Riders started at the Timpanogos Harley Davidson. More than 100 police motorcycles and patrol cars escorted them as they made their journey.

“It’s not just the families that are going to the memorial, it’s the entire community,” said Mary Robinson, who is a ride coordinator with the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial Ride. “And to have 5,000 people ride in honor of their loved ones, it’s just awing.”

The memorial wall includes names of fallen police officers who have died in Utah between 1853 and 2015.

“And every year, we cross our fingers, hoping that we don’t have to add another name to it” said Robert Kirby, a historian with the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial. “And some years, we get lucky. Some years, we don’t.”

The mother of fallen Lehi officer Sgt. Joseph Adams, who was killed in 2001, says her family is grateful her son’s memory will live on.

“Even though time passes and life goes on, they’re always remembered by their family and their loved ones, always,” Rosemary Adams said.

Attorney General Sean Reyes pointed out that no officers have died working in the line of duty so far in Utah in 2015.

“And the most significant thing, probably, aside from recognizing those on the wall, is to recognize that we don’t have any new names this year to add, and that is amazing,” he said to the audience Sunday.

Johnson’s 9-year-old son, Benson, released a flock of doves into the sky at the end of Sunday’s ceremony.