Loved ones celebrate legacy of fallen officers at memorial at Utah State Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY -- A memorial for Utah’s fallen officers was held on Thursday morning at the Utah State Capitol.

Families of the fallen, friends, members of law enforcement, and local leaders attended and together remembered the fallen.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera spoke about why she will never forget our fallen men and women.

“Our fallen will never be forgotten,” Rivera said. “How do I know this? On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to give the Michael Welker Awards to several high school students for their outstanding achievements. During my presentation my UPD chief read to the audience the reason for the awards. He explained Michael Welker is one of our fallen. During this presentation my chief became emotional. You see, Michael has been gone 20 years and the impact on losing him is still evident.”

Kristie Beesley lost her husband six years ago. Her husband was UHP Trooper Aaron Beesley. Trooper Beesley died after falling from a cliff during a search and rescue mission in Salt Lake County.

“We love to be remembered,” said Mrs. Beesley. “As time goes on, there is so many families that feel like they are forgotten and this is one way they are remembered.”

Jenny Brotherson walked up to the Utah Peace Officers’ Memorial to look at her fallen son’s name: Officer Cody Brotherson. West Valley City Officer Cody Brotherson died in December of 2016.

His name went on the wall during last year’s Peace Officer’s Memorial ceremony.

“I will tell you one of our biggest fears: that Cody and the other officers would be forgotten very quickly,” said Jenny Brotherson. “I remember a couple weeks after he died, I saw the blue ribbons start to fall down; it broke my heart a little bit because I didn’t want people to forget him, so this [ceremony] is so important.”

Jenny has another reason to be proud and also worry.

“Our middle son graduated two weeks ago, so he is also now a law enforcement officer,” she said.

Her middle son is a new Department of Corrections Officer, Braydon Brotherson.

“It’s an incredible feeling; as his mother, I would like to forbid him and ground him but I am so proud of him and his accomplishments; and the fact that he did this not because of Cody but in spite of what happened to Cody, and Cody would be so proud of Braydon," she said.

“Through Cody, getting to do ride-alongs and see the impact he was able to have with the community, really set me on the path to pursue this career and get to serve the community this way,” said Officer Braydon Brotherson.

Sheriff Rivera reminded those attending that they had something to be grateful for, despite the pain they have all endured.

“This year in Utah, we are not adding any new fallen officer names to our memorial wall, so we have plenty to be grateful for; although, we breathe a sigh of relief we did come close on several occasions," she said.

To learn more about the memorial wall for fallen law enforcement officers in Utah, click here.