While feelings are still raw after this week's terrorist attack in Boston and the subsequent killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier, hundreds of people came together to honor fallen officers Friday night in Pleasant Grove.
A screening of the documentary "Heroes Behind the Badge" was shown at Pleasant Grove High School. The documentary follows the stories of police officers who were killed or injured in the line of duty and is narrated by actor Vincent D'Onofrio.
Pleasant Grove police chief Michael Smith said that the department decided to organize the screening to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and to increase awareness of the sacrifices made by police officers. The NLEOMF produced the documentary.
D'Onofrio, who attended the screening, said he asked to be involved in the documentary because supporting law enforcement is important to him. "It's unfortunate that it takes an event like Boston to remind people who the first responders are," he said. "This film reminds people."
D'Onofrio told the auditorium full of people that as they were sitting there, law enforcers around the country were putting their lives at risk.
Ironically, as he was speaking about this risk, he announced that officers had just taken Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, into custody. This announcement was met with applause and cheers from the audience.
"Most citizens have no idea that every 54 hours a police officer in this country loses his or her life defending our society from the predators that wish to bring evil upon us," said Smith.
Police officers are more than just the person in uniform who writes speeding tickets, he said. "We are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who want to go home to our families after each shift, but are willing to put the safety of the citizens we serve before that of our own."
One local officer, Sergeant Nathan Hutchinson of the Weber County Sheriff's Department, was honored at the event by the NLEOMF as Officer of the Month. In Jan. 2012, Hutchinson was injured while pulling two other officers out of a home with a shooter.
The documentary is currently being screened across the country, according to producer Bill Erfurth, a former police officer. Many police academies now use it as part of training. "If the general public watched this film, they would understand," he said, speaking of the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers.
After the screening, audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions of Erfurth and D'Onofrio. Proceeds from the event will go to the NLEOMF and the Pleasant Grove Honorary Colonels, which is an organization that supports local law enforcement efforts.