This is National Peace Officer’s Memorial Week, and a ceremony was held this morning at the Iowa Peace Officers Memorial on the state capitol grounds. Forty-three peace officers have died in the line of duty this year in the U.S., and one of those was an Iowan. Forty-five-year-old Davis County Deputy Sheriff Dennis McElderry died January 3rd as he was assisting in a high-speed chase by placing “stop sticks” along a road. Jocelyn Briar, his fiancee, was at today’s ceremony. She says Dennis never thought of himself as a hero, and she believes Dennis was at today’s ceremony, in spirit. Iowa State Highway Patrol chaplain Mike Roberts paid respects to what he called an honored profession. Roberts says “we’re painfully reminded” that too many officers have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving more than they should have had to give. Iowa Public Safety Commission Kevin Techau says professional police officers, fire fighters, E-M-S crews sacrifice daily to help protect the public. Techau says “sadly, their valor is the price we pay for law and order.” He says it’s not how the officers died that makes them heroes, but how they lived. Governor Tom Vilsack says Americans saw first-hand how important the work of law enforcement is when they saw the looting of Baghdad. Vilsack says there was no structure in place to protect the people of Iraq from day-to-day acts of vandalism and crime, and he says we don’t know what that feels like in our country because we have people who day after day put on their uniform and protect our streets and communities.
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