Northland Law Enforcement Remembers Officers, K9s Who Made Ultimate Sacrifice

For the first time since 2019, law enforcement agencies came together to honor the fallen, in-person

DULUTH, Minn.- For the first time since 2019 law enforcement agencies from across the Northland came together in-person to honor those who died in the line of duty, at the Law Enforcement Memorial Luncheon downtown.

Across the country this week, law enforcement chaplains are honoring the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving and protecting.

“When a law enforcement agent, police officer, sheriff’s deputy, are killed in the line of duty, it impacts their immediate family, it impacts the family of the department/office, and it impacts the full community,” said Chief Chaplain John Petrich of the Duluth Police Department.

Duluth, Superior, and Hermantown police officials, members of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, and others joined in remembering the fallen Thursday.

They honored the 124 officers nationwide who died in the line of duty this year, and the dozens of Northland law enforcement lives lost throughout history.

“We haven’t had a law enforcement line of duty death since Gary Wilson, Sgt. Gary Wilson, in 1990, April of 1990. Which is a good thing,” Petrich said.

Human lives were not the only ones remembered.

Unbeknownst to him, Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken was presented a certificate honoring the sacrifice of K9 Luna, shot in the line of duty back in February.

“It’s really always important that the ultimate sacrifice of our police officers but also of our K9 partners are also recognized,” said the Chief.

“Not only for the fact that it was a sacrifice to the K9, but also that it likely saved the lives of police officers,” he said.

Former commander for the LAPD, Homeland Security officer, and Duluth native Joan McNamara spoke at the event.

“Most important for cops, most important for cops — is to go home at the end of the night,” she said to the crowd.

She echoed what local officials have been saying, that violent crime is mostly due to guns being in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

“I think we really need to focus that, it’s not just about bad guys on the street, it’s also about the amount of weapons we have floating around,” McNamara said.

It’s been a tumultuous year for law enforcement filled with protests calling for police reform, and former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin convicted of murdering George Floyd.

“I think we’re at a crossroads in law enforcement where there are a lot of ideas coming at us ways that we can enhance or improve the work that we do,” said Tusken.

According to Tusken, it’s important to recognize the officer lives lost — with an eye to the future.

“Duluth is very fortunate. The vast majority of people who are, live in this city are very supportive of this organization and we also know where our work is that we can improve,” he said.

“Let’s get together, let’s talk, let’s collaborate, let’s become a better police department when we’re all at the table together,” said the Chief.

At the end of National Police Week, the names of the 124 officers who died this year will be read at the memorial in Washington DC.

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