Percy L. Clark carried badge No. 132 for the Salt Lake City Police Department for 21 years, and carried a single-action Colt revolver that earned him the moniker “Dirty Harry,” above his established nickname, “Perc.”
“My dad was one hell of a guy,” Clark’s daughter, Kathy Koester, said Thursday.
Koester was one of dozens of family members, police officers and municipal officials gathered at Salt Lake City police headquarters to honor Clark and 24 other members of the department who died because of their work.
The annual Fallen Officer Memorial Service included a bugler playing taps, a piper performing “Amazing Grace,” and the Salt Lake City police SWAT team giving a 21-volley salute, sending three sharp claps of rifle fire into the gray and windy afternoon.
“When danger is at hand and shots ring out, our officers run into danger while others flee,” said police Chief Mike Brown, at the memorial to his department’s fallen officers that has become an annual tradition.
Clark was killed Jan. 11, 1973, shot in the head by one of two men robbing a pharmacy in The Avenues district, where a restaurant now stands. Other officers returned fire and killed the assailant; the other robber surrendered.
Koester, who was 18 when Clark was killed, told the assembled officers and family members that her family “lived at the old police range behind the Capitol.” Clark was a champion marksman and excelled in preloading his fellow officers’ ammunition, she said. “His friends would try his loads, and some were very hot,” Koester said.
Law enforcement was a family business for the Clarks. Percy Clark’s father, Harold, served 41 years with Salt Lake City police, Koester said. Her brother, Kelly, served for a decade in Billings, Mont., and her son, Lynn, is an officer in St. George.
“These officers served with integrity and character," Brown said. "Their lives are woven into the fabric of our department, through blood, sweat and tears. … And to the families and friends of these fallen officers, we commit to remember them and we promise we will never forget them.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said the memorial “gives us the opportunity to reflect on the courage and dedication that runs through every member of this excellent police department, and their families.”
In Thursday’s memorial, officers read brief biographies of the 25 fallen lawmen and descriptions of how they died.
The oldest was William Cooke, a night jailer who on Oct. 13, 1858, refused to comply when three men came to get a friend out of the Salt Lake City jail on 100 South. One of the men shot Cooke in the leg, and he died five days later from the wound. The shooter was later gunned down in Wyoming.
The officer most recently added to the list is Detective James W. Cawley, who was killed in Iraq on March 29, 2003, while serving as a Marine reservist.
Statewide, 145 Utah law officers have died on duty, dating back to 1853, according to the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial’s website. In the last year, three names have been added to the state’s memorial, west of the Utah State Capitol:
• Assistant Chief Dennis Vincent of the Brigham City police, who suffered an aneurysm and stroke while taking his annual physical fitness test, on Oct. 26.
• Officer David Romrell of the South Salt Lake City police, who was hit by a car driven by two men fleeing a burglary, on Nov. 24.
• Officer Joseph Shinners of the Provo police, who was shot during the arrest of a fugitive, on Jan. 5.
Correction: An earlier version of the story omitted that Percy Clark's family lived at the city's old shooting range. Also, Lynn Koester is still a law officer in St. George.