National Police Week honors current, fallen officers
The new Power County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard and other officials gathered on Monday to honor a brother who was killed in the line of duty 98 years ago.
Deputy Charles H. Torrance died on March 20, 1921, just three days after he was fatally shot while trying to apprehend a man who had already injured two other people.
Although none of the officers present at Monday’s memorial service knew Torrance personally, they shared a connection with the man who died while trying to protect people in Power County.
“There are a lot of risks (that come) with doing the job we do,” Power County Sheriff Jim Jeffries said. “This is the week of the year we honor them and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for us all.”
This week is National Police Week and many law enforcement agencies are taking the opportunity to honor current officers, who are willing to risk their lives every day to protect the communities they serve, and those who died in that service.
Nationally, Jeffries says there were 129 line-of-duty deaths in 2017 and 144 in 2018, and there have been roughly 40 so far this year. There’s also a high rate of suicide among officers who are exposed to violent and traumatic incidents and can develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a result, he noted.
The work can also take a toll on officers’ health.
Sgt. Kent Swanson with the Shelley Police Department suffered a fatal heart attack while responding to a domestic disturbance nearly a year ago.
In Idaho, more than 70 officers have died while serving, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website. Nearly 20 of those were associated with law enforcement agencies in Eastern Idaho.
The Idaho State Police, which has lost five of its own, has a memorial for fallen officers at its headquarters in Meridian.
“We feel it’s important to pay tribute to them as they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their fellow Idahoans,” said Timothy Marsano, ISP’s public information officer.
He noted that they are getting ready to add a memorial for K-9s that have also died in the line of duty.
Although National Police Week only continues through Saturday, the Idaho Peace Officers’ Memorial is planning to hold two events next week, Marsano said. There will be a candlelight vigil on May 22 and a ceremony on May 23.
“(The candlelight vigil) is a very moving tribute each year,” Marsano said, adding that the event honors not only those who have died, but also their loved ones who had to make sacrifices.
Bingham County Sheriff Craig T. Rowland also feels it’s important to honor officers for the important work they are doing.
“It’s important to not forget the men and women who are serving and trying to uphold the law,” he said. “I think it’s something we have to do.”
A deputy and a constable died in the line of duty while serving in the Bingham County area many years ago. Deputy Elbert P. Sweet was shot while responding to a robbery in 1904, and Constable David W. Stoddard was stabbed while trying to break up a fight in 1890, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
More recently, Sgt. Todd Howell with the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office was shot while confronting a suspect in September. He recovered from his injuries and is back at work.
Still, Rowland says it was a difficult situation to go through, and he thinks it would be the worst thing in the world to have someone killed on his watch.
“It’s a dangerous business and it’s getting worse,” he said. “It’s important to reflect back on the ones who gave it all.”
Jeffries said Torrance had been a Sunday school teacher, worked for a grain company and had served as a probation officer before he was killed in 1921 in Power County.
“From what I’ve read about him, he was fairly highly regarded,” Jeffries said.
The sheriff’s office has created a memorial for Torrance: a shadow box containing his photo, a specially made deputy sheriff badge based on those from the 1920s, an etching of his name taken from a national memorial, vigil candles and other items.
Jeffries says Torrance is the only deputy in Power County who has died in the line of duty and he hopes it stays that way.
“I don’t want to have another memorial,” he said.