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SD Honors More Fallen Officers

May 20, 2011, 6:36 AM by Casey Wonnenberg

SD Honors More Fallen Officers
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The number of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty jumped 37 percent last year, and it's up again this year.

This week, officers across the country, including those in KELOLAND, are honoring those who've died as part of National Law Enforcement Memorial Week. Sioux Falls officers are wearing black bands on their badges.

"I think a lot of times people forget how dangerous the profession of law enforcement can be, and there's a lot of people out there who will take chances and try to harm officers," Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens said.

This week's incident where Sioux Falls Police officers exchanged gunfire with a man is an example of the dangers of the job.

"We're fortunate in Sioux Falls that we don't have a lot of instances like that, but when we do it serves as a reminder. There's times, you never know when that could be, but this job can be very dangerous," Clemens said.

This year, the reminder is hitting closer to the heart. Correctional Officer Ron Johnson was killed while working at the South Dakota State Penitentiary last month.

"I think it definitely has an impact, and correction officers tend to get overlooked. People think of law enforcement, and they think of police, sheriff, highway patrol, but corrections is part of that family too," Clemens said.

But no matter what branch of law enforcement, all encounter dangerous situations.  And with the number of deaths up the past couple years, Clemens says it's important to recognize the sacrifices made.

"It's one of the ways we can remember not only the people who have gone before us, but just to remember this is a dangerous job," Clemens said.

This week a couple new names were added to the law enforcement memorial marker in Pierre: State Penitentiary Correctional Officer Ron Johnson and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Police Officer Merrill Bruguier, who died in an accident last year.

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