Lawmaker proposes 'Utah Fallen Heroes Days'

Published: Monday, Jan. 9 2012 1:32 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Two days each August could be set aside to honor Utah military personnel and public safety officers killed in the line of duty.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, sees the proposal as timely and appropriate, particularly in light of the deadly shooting of Ogden police officer Jared Francom last week. Francom was among six officers who were shot and wounded as members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force were serving a search warrant at an Ogden home.

"We have public safety people laying their lives on the line every day," said Niederhauser, who will sponsor the bill when the Legislature convenes this month.

The measure would designate the second Friday and Saturday in August as Utah Fallen Heroes Days.

Initially envisioned as a Saturday event, it was expanded to Friday so schools could participate, he said. The proposal encourages, schools, cities and counties to  acknowledge and honor those killed in action.

Niederhauser said families of Utah soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan came to him about year ago suggesting the state recognize those who sacrificed their lives protecting the country or community.

"It should be an easy bill to pass," Niederhauser said. "But it's something we need to do."

Lawmakers also will consider a resolution recognizing a Park City couple who established the 1033 Foundation to assist the families of fallen police officers. The foundation is named for the police radio code for an officer in trouble.

Philanthropists Tore and Mona Steen, who moved to Utah about 13 years ago, created the fund to present the families of Utah officers killed in the line of duty a $25,000 check the day after the death.

The Steens presented their first check to Francom's widow, Erin, over the weekend.

The foundation hopes to eventually help the families of fallen firefighters as well as provide scholarships to the children of living and deceased police officers.

A native of Norway, Tore Steen served in the air force in his homeland. While living in New York, he realized on a ride-along with police called to a domestic dispute that they put their lives at risk every day.

Current Utah commemorative days include:

• Bill of Rights Day — Dec. 15

• Constitution Day — Sept. 17

• Yellow Ribbon Day — third Monday in May

• POW/MIA Recognition Day — third Friday in September

• Indigenous People Day — Monday before Thanksgiving

• Utah State Flag Day — March 9

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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