Memorial service honors officers killed on duty

The San Juan County Law Enforcement Memorial service recognized San Juan County officers who have died in the line of duty 1962, as well as officers nationwide who died in the last two years

Hannah Grover
hgrover@daily-times.com
Farmington Police Department Chief Steve Hebbe speaks on Saturday evening at the San Juan County Law Enforcement Memorial service at Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

FARMINGTON — An annual memorial service for police officers who have died in the line of duty offers the community a chance to come together and reflect on the sacrifices of law enforcement officers, both locally and nationally.

That's what Farmington police Chief Steve Hebbe said during a ceremony tonight at the Farmington Museum.

The San Juan County Law Enforcement Memorial service recognized San Juan County officers who have died on the job since 1962, as well as officers nationwide who died in the last two years. The event was part of National Police Week, which starts Sunday.

"It's easy to overlook the sacrifice of these people," Hebbe said prior to the ceremony.

Community members participate in a candlelight vigil as part of this year's San Juan County Law Enforcement Memorial service on Saturday night outside Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

Among the officers remembered tonight was Farmington police Sgt. James Thode, who died in December 2010. Thode, a member of the Utah National Guard, was killed by a roadside bomb while deployed in Iraq. His wife, Carlotta Thode, attended tonight's service.

"This is important to me because it is continually honoring him for his sacrifice," she said before the ceremony.

She said the community needs to come together to support law enforcement officers.

"These officers put their lives on the line for everything they believe in," she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Brenda Landdeck, whose father, Farmington police Lt. Owen Landdeck, was killed during a training exercise in 1979.

"It really is a thankless job," she said.

Brenda Landdeck was 13 years old when her father died.

"I always thought he was my guardian angel," she said.

Photos of San Juan County police officers who have died in the line of duty are displayed Saturday at the San Juan County Law Enforcement Memorial service at Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

In addition to those two officers, six other San Juan County officers have been killed since 1962. These include Navajo police Officer Alex Yazzie, Bloomfield police Officer Wayne Stedman Jr., New Mexico State Police Officers David Smith and Lowell Howard, Farmington police Community Service Officer Vicky Chavez and Farmington police Officer Benjamin Herrera.

"These men and women cannot and will not be forgotten," Hebbe said during the ceremony.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.