Kirby: Fox's spirit with riders who honor fallen officers
On Sunday, 4,000 motorcycles jammed State Street for the annual Ride for the Fallen. The line of riders who turned out to honor police officers killed in the line duty stretched more than seven miles.
Some of the riders believed that the spirit of Millard County Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox accompanied them just two days after the man who had confessed to police to killing her later to retract the admission on the witness stand was acquitted by a jury.
The 6th annual ride began at Timpanogos Harley-Davidson in Lindon and ended at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the grounds of the state Capitol where Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff emotionally denounced Friday's acquittal.
"There is no justice when a cop killer walks free," Shurtleff told the applauding leather-clad audience. "But there is justice in what you're doing here today."
His voice trembling, Shurtleff mentioned the 16 other officers who had been killed in the line of duty during the nearly 12 years he has been attorney general.
"One of the things I didn't expect was that I would attend so many funerals for police officers," Shurtleff said.
State Parks Ranger Brody Young thanked the audience for their support of the memorial for the families of fallen officers. In 2010, Young barely escaped having his own name added to the memorial when he was shot by a man he discovered sleeping in a car at a trailhead near Moab.
Young recovered and returned to duty, an accomplishment he attributed at least in part to those in the community who supported causes like Ride for the Fallen.
Although she did not address the audience, the widow of Ogden Officer Jared Francom, whose alleged killer is awaiting trial, flew with her two young daughters from Lindon to the Capitol in an aircraft donated by Utah Helicopter.
Thad and Rosemary Adams, of Orem, have attended nearly every ride and police memorial since the 2001 murder of their son Lehi Officer Joe Adams.
"It's wonderful that so many people care," Rosemary Adams said.
But many at Sunday's gathering felt a sense of injustice in the acquittal of Roberto Miramontes RomÃ¡n.
Several police officers in attendance expressed frustration in a system they believe had failed them.
"It makes it tough to go back out there and risk our lives," said one officer who asked not to be identified."But it helps to come here and see thousands of citizens who support us."
Young, who returned to duty despite the danger and the occasional injustice, is helping to sponsor a similar ride for fallen officers.
In April 2013, Young and the Utah Peace Officers Association will dedicate a trail north of Moab as the Fallen Peace Officer Trail. An annual ride will be held there to raise scholarship funds for the children of officers killed in the line of duty.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org