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State committee member details law enforcement memorial project

Sun Advocate reporter

An artisti's drawing highlights the design of the state's law enforcement memorial planned at the Utah Capitol.

Until recently, a small memorial in the Utah Capitol Rotunda has honored the state's fallen men and women of law enforcement.

In 2005, extensive renovations to the Utah Capitol necessitated the removal of the memorial.

A location on the west side of the building was selected for the construction of a new memorial.

A state committee was formed to oversee the fundraising and construction of a memorial honoring the sacrifice of law enforcement officers who have fallen and who will fall.

"When America looks at those who sacrifice their lives for our freedom, they remember those who fought in Vietnam or Desert Storm - they look at conflicts that have an end. The men and women of law enforcement fight for our day to day freedoms in a war that will never end," stated Robert Kirby, Salt Lake Tribune columnist and member of the memorial committee.

One law enforcement officer's story, recounted in the war memorial's information, shows why the brave men and women should never be forgotten.

On the night of Aug. 4, 2001, Officer Joseph Adams stopped a vehicle near 2100 North and 1200 West in Lehi.

The 26-year-old officer determined that the driver was intoxicated and placed the subject under arrest.

During a search of the driver, Adams discovered a packet of suspected cocaine.

When the officer attempted to handcuff the driver, the man produced a .22 caliber handgun and began firing.

One bullet narrowly missed the officer's body armor and penetrated Adams' heart. As the officer fell dying, he returned fire and struck his assailant.

The seriously wounded suspect managed to drive away from the scene.

The suspect in the shooting was located an hour later at a gas station in Draper by paramedics summoned to the scene of his collapse.

Officer Adams was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Adams was laid to rest by hundreds of law enforcement personnel still reeling from the July 6, 2001 murder of Roosevelt Police Chief Cecil F. Gurr.

Adams and Gurr joined the ranks of more than 115 law enforcement officers who have died in the service of Utah, many of whom have been forgotten during the passage of time.

"The law enforcement memorial will honor their memory and continue to look for those whose memories have been neglected," pointed out Kirby.

The state law enforcement committee is currently seeking all information on fallen officers who may have been forgotten.

Carbon County residents with Internet access may submit related information to the committee at

Donations for funding the $1.2 million memorial may also be submitted at the designated Web site.

Two law enforcement officers have fallen within Carbon County's boundaries, noted the state committee member.

Castle Gate Deputy James M. Burns was killed in the line of duty in 1925 by a coal miner from whom the local law enforcement officer had taken a gun earlier that day.

According to Kirby, Robert Marshall ambushed Burns and fled into the mountains surrounding Helper.

The suspect was found three days later after his whereabouts were divulged by another local coal miner.

Shortly after the suspect's arrest, local law enforcement officers were overpowered by a mob and the members took custody of Marshall.

The assailent was then taken to the edge of the town and lynched.

Historically, the hanging of Marshall was one of the last verified mob lynchings in the United States.

Prior to relocating to the Carbon area, Burns served as the sheriff of Sanpete County. The Castle Gate deputy's father served as the sheriff of Sanpete County and James. C Burns was also killed in the line of duty by sheep rustlers.

Carbon County Sheriff S. Marion Bliss was accidentally shot by a law enforcement posse in 1945.

The sheriff was killed in a gun battle while pursuing a murder suspect at a location about one mile and one- half northeast of Price.

Bliss had lost one arm in a jail break to become the "one armed sheriff of Carbon County."

Kirby reported that the memorial is slated for completion in May 2008.

The committee chose May for the dedication because it is thought of nationally as Law Enforcement month.

In May 2007, Officer Kevin Orr and others will be canonized within the memorial's ranks

"People abuse the freedoms given them in our county," stated Kirby. "When that happens, it is up to the men and women of law enforcement to take action and in taking that action some of them inevitably fall.."

"It is our responsibility to make sure the fallen are never forgotten," concluded the former police officer and state memorial committee member.

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