URBANDALE, Iowa -- If time heals all wounds, what happened to Des Moines metro law enforcement officers in 2016 could have been an exception. "One is too many. Five is a tough burden to carry for a lot of these guys," said Des Moines Lieutenant Christopher Scott.
In 2016, West Des Moines lost officer Shawn Miller in a motorcycle crash. Urbandale's officer Justin Martin was shot and killed along with Des Moines Sergeant Anthony Beminio. Des Moines lost two more, Susan Farrell and Carlos Puente-Morales in a car crash. "From November, when we lost Justin and Des Moines lost Tony and the ones we lost all of last year here in metro, it's especially important to see members out here in our community supporting each other," said Urbandale Sergeant Chad Underwood.
Hundreds packed an hour and a half long annual service to pay their respects officers across the country. Eric Stielow of Des Moines attended the service and said, "We respect the people that protect our lives everyday the sacrifices they do everyday."
Despite losing multiple officers in the metro in 2016, Sgt. Underwood says this time of year is never easy. "Every year is tough. It's a way to remember those that came before us and gave the ultimate sacrifice."
Inside, Eric said he saw just how many officers put their lives on the line. "They scrolled through and had flags honoring every single person through the country that had passed." Nationally, 142 officers lost their lives in the line of duty in 2016 but it's the way the community has supported five metro officers killed that's helping heal wounds. "Even though it was Urbandale and Des Moines, two communities, it felt like one large community," said Eric. Lieutenant Scott added, "It's absolutely part of the healing process. I think there's a bond between police and community. They work together and they are one."
This past weekend, all five officers' names were added to the national police memorial in Washington D.C.