Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune) Steve Allred puts away flags after a screening of "Heroes Behind the Badge" at Pleasant Grove High School in Pleasant Grove on April 19, 2013. The documentary follows the stories of police officers who have been injured or killed in the line of duty.
Actor Vincent D’Onofrio visits Pleasant Grove for film screening
Police » The film and TV star are on a national tour promoting police charity.
First Published May 02 2013 03:13 pm • Last Updated May 02 2013 03:49 pm

Often, police are as feared by the public as the criminals they pursue every day.

Silver screen star Vincent D’Onofrio is working to change that perception.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

He made an April 19 guest appearance at the Pleasant Grove High School screening of "Heroes Behind the Badge," a 2012 documentary about the line-of-duty deaths of three police officers intended to raise support for police as individuals rather than faceless authority figures.

The message of the film is simple and powerful.

Every 54 hours, a cop dies a violent death somewhere in the United States, and civilians may not remember police are also fathers, Sunday school teachers and Little League coaches.

"It’s unfortunate that it takes the events in Boston and west Texas to remind people who first responders are and which way they’re running when everyone’s running out," D’Onofrio told the sold-out auditorium. "It’s not something civilians think of every day until something like this happens."

D’Onofrio has been doing volunteer promotion work with police departments around the nation since his days as a police officer on television’s "Law and Order: Criminal Intent." During filming of "Heroes Behind the Badge," D’Onofrio approached the film’s producer and director and asked if he could do the narration, for which he refused any kind of payment.

The film sprung from director Wayne Derrick’s mind after he spent four months riding along with the Los Angeles Police Department. Derrick, a BAFTA-winning British director, had a son born only recently, and the fear he felt made him reconsider the nature of police work.

"I remember climbing up rooftops with these guys and thinking, ‘What am I doing? What’s going to happen to my son if I don’t survive here?’" Derrick said. "Then I thought, these guys do this every day of their lives, and they have kids, too. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of that, so I wanted to make a film to show it."

Pleasant Grove’s police department came in full force; nearly every officer not responding to a call was in the high school’s auditorium. Officer Dane Cannavo of the Pleasant Grove Police Department said the police love the good relations from what is an occasionally hostile public.

story continues below
story continues below

"I think the public has a misrepresentation of officers," Cannavo said. "A lot of people give a lot of thanks to the troops, and my heart goes out to the troops, but I don’t think a lot of people realize that we as officers are the domestic soldiers. They just see the bad guy giving the ticket."

The national tour promoting the documentary asks for civilians to at least thank a police officer and at most donate to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which produced the film. John Shanks, director of law enforcement relations for the fund, said the documentary and tour have increased community involvement and donations.

"It has a definite impact," Shanks said. "People just aren’t aware of ways they can donate some money, so there’s been a lot more money coming in. We see a lot of people volunteering more and expressing appreciation for law enforcement."

During the public questions session with D’Onofrio, a teenage girl stood up and thanked him for "showing [her] that cops aren’t the bad guys and I shouldn’t hate them like young people do."

The screening was coordinated by Pleasant Grove’s Honorary Colonels, a volunteer group who support the police department and had a lucky connection to D’Onofrio — one of the members is his sister.

"She was our in," said Sherri Atwood, a communications tech for the Pleasant Grove Police Department. "The date worked well for him, and directly after the Boston bombing, it’s pretty apropos."


Twitter: @djsummersmma

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.