SOUTH SALT LAKE — The family and comrades of a fallen Utah police officer hope to find healing next month when they see him honored in Washington, D.C.
For Liz Romrell, "This whole year has been about honoring my husband."
The widow of South Salt Lake police officer David Romrell — who was killed in the line of duty last November — spoke publicly about her husband's legacy for the first time Wednesday.
"He paid the ultimate sacrifice, and it's something that you don't always prepare for," Romrell told the Deseret News. "He did not die in vain. I refuse to let that happen. I will make sure that people know who he was and know what an honorable man he was."
Romrell said her biggest challenge is to make sure her son, just 4 months old when his father was killed, remembers who his dad was.
"His dad was a Marine, his dad was an officer, his dad was a strong, incredible man who would do anything for his community, for his country, for those he loved," she explained.
Romrell’s legacy continues to live on in the South Salt Lake police station where not only is a plaque honoring him front and center in the lobby, but his fellow officers also memorialized his locker — retiring number 15.
They created a memorial for him inside it, with his photograph, a plaque bearing his name and a badge.
"It's cherrywood lined, and then they laser cut the door so you can actually see inside," Chief Jack Carruth said, displaying the locker.
On Nov. 24, 2018, Romrell was hit by a fleeing vehicle and killed. He is the first South Salt Lake officer killed in the line of duty. The driver, Felix Anthony Calata, 32, of West Valley City, was shot and killed. A passenger, Jeffrey Don Black, 43, of Taylorsville, is charged with murder. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 30.
"Even though time has passed pretty quickly it still feels very much like yesterday, like it just happened," Carruth said. Romrell remains "in the hearts and minds of all of our officers."
Twenty-two officers will go with Romrell's family to Washington, D.C., for the annual memorial service for fallen officers, held during National Police Week.
"It means a lot to them to be there to see that, see that happening and to hear his name read … as his name is placed on the national memorial wall," Carruth said.
Liz Romrell said the memorial service will be difficult but will bring more healing.1 comment on this story
"Going to the monument itself and seeing his name for the first time is going to be really hard, to know that his name is there because he died in the line of duty," Romrell said. "I also know that because his name is there he will never be forgotten."
The community is holding a benefit dinner and concert featuring the band Royal Bliss at Pat's BBQ, 155 W. Commonwealth Ave. in South Salt Lake, to help raise money for the trip. It will take place on Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $20.