‘Never forget:’ Idaho law-enforcement officials hold 10th annual officer memorial service
Alex Brizee, Idaho Statesman
Published at | Updated at
CALDWELL (Idaho Statesman) – Law-enforcement personnel and their loved ones crowded a community park in Canyon County to honor and remember the 74 officers who have died in Idaho since 1883.
Throughout the hour and a half service Friday, the crowd of roughly 50 people — a majority of them varying Idaho officers — sat solemnly as the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office and Caldwell Police Department presented the colors.
A few Caldwell police officers were present to play the bagpipe and drums throughout the service. And, K-9s tried their best to sit still throughout the Friday afternoon service, only earning a few shushes from their handlers.
The 10th Annual Canyon County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony took place at the Canyon Hill Church of the Nazarene Community Park.
The memorial service — which occurred during National Police Week — included speeches from law-enforcement personnel and state leaders including Idaho State Police Lt. Colonel Bill Gardiner, U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho Rafael Gonzalez and State Sen. Patti Anne Lodge.
The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, along with Sheriff Kieran Donahue, has hosted the service each year, according to a news release from the department.
When asked about public opinion toward law enforcement becoming more negative, Donahue told the Idaho Statesman by phone Wednesday the “rhetoric leveled against law enforcement, in general, is completely out of control.” He added that Friday’s event was an opportunity to “bring reality back into the narrative.”
“We never forget that there’s bad apples in every box — we’re painfully aware of that,” Donahue told the Statesman. “But that’s not what this day is about. This day is honoring those men and women who have perished.”
In recent months, multiple police agencies within the Treasure Valley have been sued over allegations of excessive force, harassment and negligence. In addition, officers within the Caldwell Police Department are under FBI investigation, including Lt. Joseph A. “Joey” Hoadley, who is facing two federal charges. Hoadley was fired last week.
“The fact is, at the end of the day, these are just human beings, just like you are, just like I am,” Donahue told the Statesman. “They do an extraordinary jobs, and, unfortunately, some are killed.”
74 ROSES FOR 74 OFFICERS
Since 1883, 74 Idaho officers have died in the line of duty. On Friday, law-enforcement officials from throughout the Gem State honored them.
“It is our duty as well, to do everything we can to never forget the 74 officers who have lost their lives,” Gardiner said.
Toward the end of the service, executive officers within multiple agencies were asked to present a tribute to the fallen officers: a rose.
The somber crowd sat in silence for over five minutes as each officer’s name was called and an individual rose was placed on a table in the center of the ceremony.
“Every time a law-enforcement officer puts on the badge, they put their lives on the line for the rest of us, and for that, we owe a debt of gratitude,” said the Rev. Bill Roscoe, who gave the invocation.
Nationwide, 107 law-enforcement personnel have been killed in the line of duty since Jan. 1, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. In 2021, 623 officers died and in 2020, 414 died. A majority of those deaths were due to COVID-19.
“We’re blessed here in Idaho. We haven’t had the number of deaths that other states have unfortunately had,” Donahue told the Statesman. “This really has happened and it really does happen and we owe so much to these people who have given their lives to protect our society.”
Up until a few years ago, officials use to list out the names of the officers who died nationwide, Donahue told the Statesman, but it became unrealistic as the number of officers who died annually grew.
In the past 20 years, Idaho has lost 11 officers within the line of duty, according to data provided by the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office. The most recent death was in 2020.
Idaho also has lost four K-9s — Kai, Rik, Roscoe and Jardo — in the line of duty, according to a pamphlet handed out at the service.
BONNEVILLE COUNTY SHERIFF REMEMBERS MOST RECENT FALLEN OFFICER
Two years ago — almost to the date — Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputy Wyatt Maser was killed in the line of duty. The 23-year-old was the most recent of Idaho’s 74 fallen officers to die in the line of duty.
Maser was attempting to arrest a woman on the road when he was struck by another officer’s patrol car. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene, East Idaho News reported. The woman, Jenna Holm, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the case was dismissed in September.
On Friday, Bonneville County Sheriff Samuel M. Hulse held back tears while recounting that day, which, he said, changed his life in ways he didn’t anticipate.
Hulse at the time was a captain with the Sheriff’s Office and said he remembered receiving the call on May 18 that Maser had been hit and it was serious.
While heading to the scene, Hulse said he received another call: “It’s not survivable.”
Hulse had to call then-Sheriff Paul Wilde, who had never lost somebody under his administration, to tell him that “today was our day.”
“It wasn’t how Wyatt died that mattered, it was how he lived,” Hulse said. “It was what he choose to do as a profession. I know if Wyatt was standing on this stage today he would tell you, he died doing what he believed in. He died performing his duty.”
On Wednesday — the two-year anniversary of Maser’s death — Hulse and other members of the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office meet at Maser’s grave to “honor him.”
“The promise that we have made to that family is that every May 18 we will be there at that gravesite to honor Wyatt and to never forget him,” Hulse said.