LANCASTER — The annual Grant County Deputy Sheriff’s Association Law Enforcement Memorial Program memorializes Grant County’s two law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.
The speaker at this year’s program at the Grant County Fairgrounds Eckstein Building Wednesday also has experience with line-of-duty deaths.
State Attorney General Brad Schimel was a Waukesha County assistant district attorney when father-and-son bank robbers shot to death Waukesha police Capt. James A. Lutz in 1994.
Schimel was the Waukesha County district attorney when state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Jay Balchunas was shot to death outside a gas station when on an unrelated undercover assignment in 2004.
“It is a tragic reminder that law enforcement is a dangerous profession,” said Schimel. “Protective equipment cannot keep our officers perfectly safe in the performance of their duty.”
Schimel said Lutz and Balchunas “died as they served, quietly and without fanfaire, but always with bravery.”
Grant County has had two law enforcement officers die in the line of duty — Cassville deputy marshal William Loud, shot to death while investigating a robbery Aug. 18, 1912, and Grant County deputy sheriff Tom Reuter, shot to death near the end of his shift March 18, 1990.
One of Reuter’s children, Dan, is a sheriff’s deputy and a member of the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.
Schimel also mentioned Wisconsin State Patrol trooper Trevor Casper, who was shot to death on his first solo patrol, and McFarland police officer Ryan Copeland, killed in a head-on collision with a state Department of Natural Resources truck, one year ago.
“They know when they leave home that there’s a good chance they will confront someone in desperate circumstances that day,” said Schimel. “Those families know dangers are always lurking.”
Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman said 35 officers had died in line-of-duty deaths this year, with an “increase in gunfire toward law enforcement.”
Schimel said it was “such a privilege to serve alongside the men and women of law enforcement for 27 years now. … We respect the vocation they have selected, and it is a vocation, a calling.”
Dreckman mentioned Sir Robert Peel, who created London’s Metropolitan Police Force and devised nine principles of modern policing, beginning with preventing crime and disorder as an alternative to the military and severe legal punishment, and including realization that police power is dependent on public respect and cooperation in observing the law, “constantly demonstrating impartial service to the law,” “physical force to the extent necessary” when “persuasion … is insufficient,” the role of police vs. the court system, and that the “test of police effectiveness is the absence of crime and disorder.”
“Although people claim we are changing the way we do things, we aren’t,” said Dreckman. “The core policing principles still apply, and there is no reason to change them; they still work.”