Police, firefighters pack into hockey game to cheer on slain officer's son
Luke Franke, Deseret News
WEST VALLEY CITY — Saturday marked 13-year-old Jack Barney's first hockey game without his father, the police officer who was slain in the line of duty earlier this week.
But Jack wasn't alone. As his mother, Erika Barney, sat in the bleachers surrounded by friends and family, hundreds of police officers from across the state were also there in the Acord Ice Arena on Saturday to cheer him on.
They jumped to their feet and screamed when Jack scored the third goal. After his team won 4-3, Jack skated a victory lap, raising his hockey stick to the cheering crowd.
Erika Barney said her late husband, fallen officer Doug Barney, loved to watch his son play hockey.
"He would scream really, really loud," she said. "We were almost as loud as him today."
But his cheers were missed Saturday, as his fellow police officers and family remembered the mark he had left on their lives.
The packed ice rink fell quiet before the game started, heads bowed to honor Doug Barney with a moment of silence.
"The reason we're all here today is to honor a hero," Unified Police Lt. Lex Bell told the crowd. "A man who was my friend. A father. And our brother."
Bell remembered how Doug Barney was so proud of Jack and his involvement in hockey.
"Doug and Jack were inseparable," he said. "This is probably one of the few games he ever missed."
Erika Barney said "it's hard to describe" her gratitude for the support officers and community members have shown since her husband's death.
"It means everything for the family, to visually see just how much support and love is out there for us," she said. "So many of the officers have said they're always going to be there for us, whatever we need. It's just so much love — it's hard to be sad today, with all the support we have."
Unified Police officer Hank Bessinger cheered, "Go Jack!" as he watched Jack chase the puck down the rink.
"I can't imagine what it's like for Jack to be out there and to not have his dad," Bessinger said. "Doug's passing has changed my entire perspective on law enforcement and made me appreciate on an even greater level the brotherhood and sisterhood that we have. He's family. We're out here to support his son, because his son is our family, too."
Bell said he hopes Doug Barney's wife and his three teenage children know their law enforcement family will always be there for them.
"We love them. We're here for them today, and we'll be here for them tomorrow," Bell said. "Whenever they need us, we'll always be here for them."
Erika Barney said her family will "never forget" what her husband's fellow police officers did for her son.
After the game, Jack said it was "awesome" to have hundreds of people cheering him on.
"I loved it. It was super fun," he said. "I love all the support and all of the officers here. It was a really fun game."
Jack said in honor of his father, he wants to become a police officer when he grows up.
A public viewing for officer Doug Barney will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake Center at 2811 S. 6400 West in West Valley City on Sunday from 5-9 p.m. A funeral service will be held at the Maverik Center, 3200 Decker Lane Drive, West Valley City, on Monday at 11 a.m.
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