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'Brave men': Utah police remember two officers who died in the line of duty

SALT LAKE CITY — Two new names of fallen officers were added to the list Thursday as law enforcement officers, family, friends and community members gathered at the State Capitol to remember the 149 state law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty since 1857.

“President Ronald Reagan said, 'Evil is powerless when good are not afraid,'” Lt. Patrick Evans of the Draper Police Department at the Utah Police annual memorial service. “Fortunately, we have the brave men and women to wear a badge and face evil and danger. Unfortunately, they don’t always win.”

Evans, who also serves as president of the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial, told the gathered crowd Thursday that he was grateful there were no officer-involved deaths in 2023. The most recent police officer killed in Utah was Ogden officer Nate Lyday, who was fatally shot while investigating a domestic dispute in 2020, according to utahsfallen.org.

The majority of the ceremony was dedicated to commemorating the lives and service of two Utah law enforcement officers who received a plaque to be placed at the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial alongside other plaques commemorating fallen Utah officers – Provo Officer Trenton Halladay, who died in 2006, and James Hand, deputy sheriff of Utah County, who died in 1931.

“I realized that I had the pleasure of knowing some of the men and women on that wall, and I know their personalities and remember them well, and knowing theirs and Trent's, I know that they are close Draper Police Chief Rich Ferguson took the podium to talk about Halladay and the type of person and officer he was. “I miss his laugh.”

Draper Police Chief Rich Ferguson speaks about officer Trenton Halladay, whose name was added to the memorial wall, during a memorial service at the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial outside the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
Draper Police Chief Rich Ferguson speaks about officer Trenton Halladay, whose name was added to the memorial wall, during a memorial service at the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial outside the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday. (Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

Halladay served with the Provo Police Department for 10 years and was a key member of the Utah County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Task Force, a team of officers from 18 agencies across multiple jurisdictions tasked with targeting and disrupting criminal organizations destroy.

According to Ferguson, Halladay was instrumental in identifying and locating meth labs in Utah in the mid-2000s. Ferguson, who investigated meth labs alongside him, said Halladay quickly volunteered to become certified to destroy meth labs after the DEA became concerned with the amount of meth labs it was discovering at the time , was overwhelmed.

“During meetings after a lab, we would joke about the quality of the lab we had just examined because three or four days later our throats were still burning from the chemicals we had ingested,” Ferguson said, illustrating the ugly Reality of Meth Rush Lab. “So we discovered that a good laboratory must be measured by how badly our throats burn.”

According to Ferguson, Halladay investigated hundreds of meth labs and put numerous dangerous criminals in prison throughout his career, even though he knew that not everyone involved in the drug world was a bad person. Sadly, Halladay passed away in 2006 after a six-month battle with cancer caused by exposure to the carcinogens produced in the meth labs he investigated.

“Trent was a naturally good cop, it was just in his blood,” Ferguson said, and in 2022, Halladay’s name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. “It took 16 years for his light to be confirmed as a death in the line of duty.”

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith spoke to the crowd to remember Hand, who died in 1931 after crashing a sheriff's office motorcycle while riding to work and after only about ten had served as deputy for months. It was clear that during those ten months, Hand had a positive impact on the community he served.

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith speaks about Deputy James Hand, whose name was added to the memorial wall, during a memorial service Thursday at the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial outside the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City.
Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith speaks about Deputy James Hand, whose name was added to the memorial wall, during a memorial service Thursday at the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial outside the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City. (Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

“Deputy Hand has been recognized several times in the local newspapers for his exceptional work as a deputy,” Smith said. His notable arrests included the arrest of a convict who had escaped from Arizona State Prison and the arrest of a man found in possession of 56 bottles of “home brew.”

The remembrance of the two officers added to the memorial during the ceremony was followed by the musical number “Homeward Bound” by Kate Allan, before the two officers' plaques were placed on the memorial alongside the names of their fallen comrades.

A moment of silence followed the placement of the plaques and the rendition of “Amazing Grace,” played on the bagpipes by Sandy Police Officer Ian Williams. Provo police officers fired a three-shot volley, and Marcia Conover-Harris and Casey Harris threw several punches.

At the conclusion of the memorial service, Elder K. Bruce Boucher of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints blessed those gathered, praying for the protection and well-being of law enforcement officers and their families.

Anna Harden

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