Several people passing the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center Friday morning paused to watch the American flag being raised in honor of law enforcement personnel who have died while serving their communities.

The memorial service was attended by about 30 members of the Dubuque Police and Dubuque County Sheriff’s departments, as well as City of Dubuque officials. The service, arranged by the chaplains of the police and sheriff’s departments, was held as part of National Police Week.

“This job may seem only just routine, yet you put your lives on the line every day,” said Chaplain Charlie Tharp to the group.

According to preliminary figures compiled by National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 458 members of law enforcement died in 2021. The leading cause was COVID-19-related deaths, with 301. The second-leading cause was “firearms-related fatalities,” of which there were 62, while 58 deaths were from “traffic-related incidents.”

The 458 total deaths in 2021 represented a 55% increase from the number of deaths in 2020, and it also was the highest total since 1930, when there were 312 such deaths.

Dubuque Police Chief Jeremy Jensen spoke about the 458 law enforcement personnel who died last year and how their families were to be honored Friday at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“They will witness 30,000 people stand in complete silence as each of the 458 names are read. They will be entered on the wall of the memorial (in Washington),” Jensen said. “... None of us entered this profession to have our names on that wall. However, we know someday that could be our name on that wall.”

Jensen noted that two of those law enforcement personnel who died last year were from Iowa. Both were members of the Iowa State Patrol.

Sgt. Jim Smith was fatally shot in April during a standoff in Grundy Center, Iowa. Trooper Ted Benda died in October in a crash near Postville, Iowa, while responding to assist the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department with a wanted suspect.

Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Dave Riniker also spoke about Smith and Benda, as well as the sacrifice made daily by all law enforcement.

He said high expectations are placed on law enforcement, who are often the first call in any situation. However, he said, he receives many calls of thanks for the work of local law enforcement.

“The support we receive locally is an inspiration to those who put on their badge every day,” Riniker said.

Dubuque Mayor Brad Cavanagh said the past two years have brought on many tough challenges, but he thanked law enforcement for continuing to keep the area a safe place to live.

“A lot of people now care about the direction of our community, of our country and even of our democracy,” he said. “You stand on the front lines and defend that democracy and our safety. We recognize how important that is and how much courage that takes on a daily basis.”

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.