ST. GEORGE – Three Southern Utah police officers made their way across country from the mountains of Southern Utah to the concrete jungle of New York City to honor their fallen brothers in blue, New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
Enoch City Police Sgt. Mike Berg along with Cedar City Police officer Justin Zufelt and Cpl. Murray Suttlemyre were among thousands of police who traveled from all over the country to be there for the funeral services on Sunday.
According to a press release from the Cedar City Police Department, the trip was possible only thanks to the help of Jet Blue Airlines who flew them across country for free.
“When the offer came to travel for free,” it reported, “we knew that it was a great opportunity for our agency to pay tribute to the families of Officer Liu, the families of Officer (Rafael) Ramos, the New York City Police Department, and the law enforcement community as a whole.”
It was a unifying experience to be among so many fellow law enforcement agents who came together in solidarity, Berg said.
“It was a very humbling sight to see a family of officers come together to honor another,” he said. “They reported that 25,000 plus officers were in attendance.”
A “sea of blue,” as many have taken to calling the sight at Liu’s funeral, was an understatement, Suttlemyre said. The feeling of being part of something so profound was indescribable, he said.
“I was almost overwhelmed,” Suttlemyre said. “Well, not overwhelmed, more like overcome.”
As part of the motorcycle program that he is a part of through the department, Syttlemyre said, he often attends the funerals of fallen officers in the region. In his 20 years in law enforcement, he said, he had never before seen the show of camraderie displayed in New York.
On Dec. 20 officers Liu and Ramos were both shot execution style while on duty, sitting in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
Given the national climate has become more and more “anti-law enforcement,” Syttlemyre said, he believes the unprecedented attendance was more than just another way to come together and grieve. It was also a way for police officers who risk their lives every day to take a stand and make a silent commentary: “Enough is enough!”
The press release echoed Syttlemyre’s sentiment stating:
The tragedy in New York City brought to light what Officers across the nation know is a possibility at any given time, yet willingly choose to serve their communities in spite of those dangers. It is important to remember those who sacrifice daily to serve their communities.
- Utah Law Enforcement Officer Memorial website: www.utahsfallen.org
- National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial website: www.nleomf.com
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