Years in the making, the Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial dedicated at service

Minn. Dept. of Natural Resources conservation officer NIck Prachar salutes during the roll call of area law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty at Thursday’s Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony in Optimist Park in south Grand Forks.Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Minn. Dept. of Natural Resources conservation officer NIck Prachar salutes during the roll call of area law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty at Thursday’s Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony in Optimist Park in south Grand Forks.Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Originally published by the Grand Forks Herald by Sav Kelly

“This is a day that I’ve waited for for a long time,” said Bob Rost, county commissioner, former Grand Forks County sheriff and chair of the memorial committee.

GRAND FORKS — After years in the making, Grand Forks now has a memorial to recognize fallen law enforcement.

The newly constructed Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial was dedicated during a ceremony at Optimist Park in Grand Forks. The ceremony was part of the 11th annual Northern Valley Police Week Memorial Service.

Officers from the Grand Forks Police Dept. and the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Dept. listen to keynote speaker ND attorney general Drew Wrigley at the dedication ceremony and 11th annual Police Memorial service at the Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial Thursday, May 18, 2023.Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Officers from the Grand Forks Police Dept. and the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Dept. listen to keynote speaker ND attorney general Drew Wrigley at the dedication ceremony and 11th annual Police Memorial service at the Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial Thursday, May 18, 2023.Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The memorial honors fallen law enforcement officers from northeast North Dakota, northwest Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada. The fundraising committee raised more than $415,000 for the project.

 

“This is a day that I’ve waited for for a long time,” said Bob Rost, county commissioner, former Grand Forks County sheriff and chair of the memorial committee.

Rost waited six years for the memorial to come to fruition. He was inspired to pursue the project when he realized there was no place in the area for residents to pay tribute to law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, to learn — or remember — when and how they died.

“It’s always been significant to honor those that have gone before us, serving and giving the ultimate sacrifice,” said Grand Forks County Sheriff Andrew Schneider in an interview with the Herald. “In 2020, it took on more meaning with the passing of Cody Holte in the line of duty.”

Holte was one of four officers involved in a shooting at a Grand Forks apartment on May 27, 2020. After the apartment’s resident opened fire on two Grand Forks Sheriff’s deputies who attempted to enforce an eviction notice, Holte and GFPD Cpl. Pat Torok responded to their call for help.

Holte was shot multiple times in the chest and was rushed to Altru Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The 29-year-old National Guardsman left behind his wife and son.

Airmen Paige Ward and Conner Johnson fold the flag during a steady rain at the conclusion of Thursday’s Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial at Optimist Park in south Grand Forks. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Airmen Paige Ward and Conner Johnson fold the flag during a steady rain at the conclusion of Thursday’s Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial at Optimist Park in south Grand Forks. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

A donor wall will be constructed at the memorial in the future.

“The Park Board is still taking donations to continue the work on this memorial here,” Schneider said. “This does look fantastic, and we’re always looking to make it better, you know, installing security cameras. There’s other aspects that we would like to continue to grow, much like the veterans park.”

Included in the service was a presentation of colors, memorial wreath placement, roll call of deceased officers, 21-gun salute and flag folding. There were a number of speakers, including North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, who gave the keynote address.

Wrigley spoke about honoring law enforcement’s loved ones by not allowing them to mourn alone, and always remembering the sacrifices of law enforcement. He said it’s a time of rising violence, and North Dakota’s 2022 crime statistics — which are anticipated to be released to the public next week — reflect that trend.

“Something is changing, and it’s not for the better. We cannot pay a proper tribute today without noting the evolving climate that the men and women in uniform face,” Wrigley said. “How are you treated when making an arrest? How many officers are assaulted by members of the public when they’re making arrests or having contact? How many people are fleeing from law enforcement, just in the last weeks in our state?”

 

Image: Minn. Dept. of Natural Resources conservation officer NIck Prachar salutes during the roll call of area law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty at Thursday’s Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony in Optimist Park in south Grand Forks.

Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

 

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