SALT LAKE CITY — Friends, family and law enforcement officers gathered Thursday to honor Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson and Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, who were both recently killed in the line of duty.
The officers' names were added to the Law Enforcement Memorial Honor Wall at the state Capitol during an annual service to remember all of Utah’s fallen officers. Their names were added to the 135 others who died before them.
The families of Johnson, 32, and Wride, 44, were joined by hundreds from around the state in a ceremony full of emotion and encouragement.
“The strength and compassion of others through this difficult time has been the only thing that has kept us going,” Johnson's sister, Desirae Johnson, said while holding back tears. “Thank you for letting us borrow your strength when we were weak.”
"Sgt. Cory Wride and Sgt. Derek Johnson are like all who choose to serve in law enforcement, and they represent the good in society,” said Utah Commissioner of Public Safety Keith Squires.
On Jan. 30, Wride was shot twice while sitting in his patrol car as he stopped to assist who he thought was a stranded motorist in Eagle Mountain. Utah County sheriff's deputy Greg Sherwood was also shot during the crime spree but is recovering.
Just before 6 a.m. on Sept. 1, Johnson was finishing his shift and driving back to the police station. He came across a car in the road that was broken down near 13200 S. Fort St. (850 East). Seconds later, without warning, Johnson was shot multiple times and later died from his injuries.
"We must take time every year to pause and remember these brave men and women who work tirelessly to serve our communities,” Draper Police Chief Brian Roberts said.
The Johnson and Wride families each mounted a plaque with the officer's name, agency and the day he died.
“My brother and Sgt. Cory Wride are courageous for giving their lives in order for our communities to be a little bit safer,” Johnson said. “They are gone, but will never be forgotten.”
Utah has had a memorial honor wall since 1988; the original was inside the Capitol rotunda. Because more space was needed, a new wall was dedicated in 2008.
“We must pause and recognize their amazing acts of heroism, their bravery under the line of fire, their willingness to face the stiffest of adversity,” Roberts said. “But most of all we must stop and pay solemn tribute to those fallen heroes who have given their lives, who have given the last measure of sacrifice in the service of others.”
Taps was played during the service, and the Draper Police Department and the Utah County Sheriff's Office honor guards presented a 21-gun salute.
Members of both families placed the plaque with the name of their loved one on the wall. Following the service, they made a rubbing of the plates.
Besides adding their names to the Honor Wall, each of the families was presented a Purple Heart given by the Utah Peace Officers Association.
“In order to carry on the legacies of these two men, we, too, must not give up. We must continue to fight the battles of life. We must continue to be the strength of others in our communities,” Johnson said.
“I believe today by placing their names here on this wall, they've become legends, legends that will never die,” said Del Schlosser, president of the Utah Peace Officers Association.