Jasper County residents showed their support for local law enforcement and honored fallen officers at the Jasper County Peace Officer Memorial on Thursday evening at the courthouse lawn.
Several dozen members of the public and many law enforcement officers from both the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and the Newton Police Department gathered outside for the ceremony. The police departments of Baxter, Colfax, Monroe and Prairie City were also recognized.
Newton Mayor Pro-Tem Lin Chapé delivered the opening remarks and called on citizens to observe National Police Week this week.
Law enforcement officers provide a vital public service, Chapé said, preserving the rights and security of all citizens.
Newton Police Chief Rob Burdess said it was an honor to have everyone present to remember fallen officers and their legacy. The ceremony was also about honoring the bravery and sacrifice of current officers, he said.
In recent years, Iowa law enforcement has seen its share of tragedies. Seven police officers have died in the line of duty since 2015. This unprecedented number, Burdess said, is a stark reminder of how dangerous the job is.
Jasper County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Cunningham received the award for Law Enforcement Employee of the Year presented by Newton Daily News Publisher Dan Goetz.
Cunningham has earned a reputation as an effective peace officer since taking his post three years ago, Goetz said. The deputy has more than 1,000 traffic stops and 132 self-initiated arrests.
“He’s also a community-minded officer,” Goetz said. “He takes time to meet and talk with local citizens and has even been known to play some ball with kids he meets while serving the community.”
Jasper County Chief Deputy Duane Rozendaal and Prairie City Police Chief Joe Bartello also spoke at the ceremony and honored fallen officers.
Fallen officers from Jasper County include Lt. Patrick Richardson, Officer Bobby J. Barrickman, Officer Daniel M. McPherren, Officer Donald (Rusty) Hewitt and Captain Howard Holdefer.
Pastor Randy Danley of The River in Newton also delivered some words of support for law enforcement.
“We’re here to recognize and express our honor to the law enforcement officers who work hard, and they sacrifice their lives every day to protect us and to keep us safe,” Danley said.
The ceremony included a performance of “Amazing Grace” by bagpipers Ron Husted and Theresa Taylor. Jim Beerends added a performance of “Taps.”
Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org