On a cloudy and rainy day, law enforcement came from across Anoka County to recognize officers who have died in the line of duty.
The May 17 Law Enforcement Memorial Service at the Anoka County Government Center paid tribute to Anoka Police Department Officer Verl Whinery (Jan. 18, 1947), Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ernest Zettergren (Dec. 7, 1953), St. Francis Police Chief Gerald Boos (June 10, 1967), Columbia Heights Police Department Officer Curtis Ramsdell (July 30, 1977), Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy Richard Legler (Aug. 9, 1986), Minnesota State Patrol Corporal Timothy Bowe (June 7, 1997) and Lino Lakes Police Officer Shawn Silvera (Sept. 6, 2005).
Special tribute was paid to Silvera and his family.
Prior to the noon memorial service, a procession of squad cars from multiple departments left from the area along Interstate 35 south of Highway 97 in Columbus where Silvera was killed. The line of squads made their way to downtown Anoka for the memorial service at the government center.
Silvera was near stop sticks he had deployed to puncture the tires of a suspect who was fleeing police. This man, who had warrants for his arrest, drove around the stop sticks and struck and killed Silvera, 32, who had been a Lino Lakes police officer for seven years. He and his wife had two children at the time.
Seven flowers were pinned on a wreath to honor the seven law enforcement personnel who died in Anoka County. Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner served as the keynote speaker.
Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart pointed out a grim nationwide statistic during the service. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, in 2016 law enforcement fatalities rose to their highest level in five years, with 143 officers killed in the line of duty, That’s a 10 percent increase over 2015 and the highest total since 2011.
“The trend is moving in the wrong direction,” Stuart said.
Of the 143 victims, nearly 70 lost their life to gunfire. This was the leading cause of death in 2016, Stuart said. Twenty-one died while being ambushed, he added.
“These were senseless attacks that were often spurred on by the negative propaganda and false anti-law enforcement rhetoric,” Stuart said. “We must embrace these truths. The truth that it is a difficult job; the truth that our law enforcement is routinely asked to respond to and deal with every failure within our societal systems; the truth that our protectors are not the enemy and should not be used as political scapegoats; the truth that statistics affirm that our protectors do an amazing job as they serve and protect us all without malice.”