WATERLOO – A volley of rifle fire. “Taps” on a bugle, and “Amazing Grace” on a bagpipe.
With those sounds, the community took a moment to remember officers, deputies and troopers who died in the line of duty during the annual Peace Officer Memorial Service on Wednesday.
“Their supreme sacrifices not only affected their families, but also affected their coworkers, friends, neighbors and our whole community. Their sacrifices in the line of duty also underscore the inherent dangers of safeguarding the lives and property or our community,” Keynote speaker and state Sen. William “Bill” Dotzler told the crowd of relatives, law officers and retirees outside Veterans Memorial Hall.
Over the years, some 14 local peace officers have lost their lives on the job. During the ceremony, officials mentioned the recent death of Robert Greenlee III, a sergeant with the Waterloo Police Department who died at his home in April.
Dotzler noted the dangers of police work don’t always come from the criminals themselves.
“Whether it’s driving in a response, including emergencies, or working outside their vehicles on busy streets, the risk is constantly there for our officers. There are also hidden dangers to the job that also need to be recognized that can adversely affect and damage their lives,” Dotzler said, noting the job requires officers to be on constant high alert, which can cause stress and lead to health issues.
According to an FBI report released this week, a total of 93 officers across the country lost their lives on duty in 2017. This was a decrease from the 118 deaths reported in 2016. (The National Law Enforcement Memorial lists 135 line-of-duty deaths in 2017.)
Of those, 46 died as the result of what the FBI calls “felonious activity,” and 42 of those officers were killed with firearms, according the FBI statistics. This included a Pottawattamie County, Iowa, sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed May 1, 2017, in an escape during a prisoner transport.
The remaining 47 died in various accidents — 35 died in vehicle accidents, six were on foot and struck by vehicles, three drowned and two died in an aircraft accident — according to the FBI numbers.
The different law enforcement agencies that serve the area take turns organizing the ceremony for local peace officers. This year had been the La Porte City Police Department’s turn, but Hudson police volunteered to handle the arrangements because the La Porte department has been busy with the ongoing search for missing teen Jake Wilson, who disappeared in April.
Black Hawk County law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty include:
- Officer John E. Bailey, Waterloo Po
- lice Department, 1902.
- Officer Fred P. Widmann, Waterloo Police Department, 1908.
- Officer William Goodenbour, Waterloo Police Department, 1920.
- Officer Vinton J. Margetz, Waterloo Police Department, 1925.
- Deputy Wendell F. Dilworth, Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, 1932.
- Officer Everett Dutcher, Cedar Falls Police Department, 1945.
- Officer William R. Melhorn, Waterloo Police Department, 1956.
- Officer Gabriel C. LaFromboise, LaPorte City Police Department, 1976.
- Officer Wayne R. Rice, Waterloo Police Department, 1981.
- Officer Michael W. Hoing, Waterloo Police Department, 1981.
- Deputy William F. Mullikin, Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, 1981.
- Trooper Charles G. Whitney, Iowa State Patrol, 1985.
- Trooper Lance G. Dietsch, Iowa State Patrol, 1989.
- Officer Adam Liddle, Waterloo Police Department, 2015.