While serving as a police officer is a privilege, it's also a challenging job that involves life-or-death decisions.
The Bayfield Marshal's Office honored its employees, as well as those in other area agencies, at a dinner on May 14 as part of National Police Week.
Hosted at Pine Valley Church, children's artwork hung on the walls that read, "Thank you, cops!"
The Rev. Scott Kujath prayed for protection for both the police and their families.
Bayfield Marshal Joe McIntyre shared some sobering statistics with the dinner's attendees:
There are approximately 900,000 police officers in the United States, and every year, about 150 die in the line of duty.
In 2014, that number was 117. Their names are now listed on the National Law Enforcement Officers memorial in Washington DC. Every year, names of officers killed in past years are placed on the memorial as well.
The average officer killed in the line of duty is 38 years old and has served on the force for about eight years. Another 200 officers commit suicide every year.
Westwind Pipes and Drums played "Amazing Grace" in their honor.
While remembering the fallen, the evening also was an opportunity to honor those who serve.
McIntyre presented plaques to retired sheriff Duke Schirard, who previously served as Bayfield marshal, as well as Jim Harrington, who was not able to attend.
McIntyre also gave an award to Investigator Suess Beyer of the La Plata County Sheriff's Office in recognition of forensic investigation assistance to the Bayfield Marshal's Office.
Another award went to Mark Anderson and the La Plata County Mounted Patrol for their assistance to the Bayfield Marshal's Office, particularly during the town's hectic Independence Day celebrations.
The Junior Police Academy, a new class at Bayfield Middle School, recognized the whole department for service and gave a wood carving to Cpl. Dan Cyr, the marshal's school resource officer, to thank him for teaching the class.
"Thank you for your service," and making Bayfield a safer place, the student captain said.
McIntyre presented the department's first scholarship to a BHS graduate interested in working in public service. Kimberly Ocana, who wants to become a police officer, received the $1,000 scholarship.
McIntyre also presented several awards to his staff, including promotions to sergeant for both Cyr and Cpl. Dan Abdella.
Cyr received the John Edgar Hoover Award for excellence and expertise as a trainer and instructor. As an instructor for Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training, he has taught the department's four officers.
Abdella received the Excellent Arrest Award for the apprehension of a violent felon. The arrest was in November of 2012 of a serial rapist from Denver who sped away from a traffic stop.
Four Bayfield deputies received Knights of Justice awards:
Deputy Derick Campbell has been selected as the area's first responder of the year, and also was honored as the marshal's officer of the year by the Durango Masonic Lodge.
Deputy Holly Cashwell investigated a burglary in September of 2013 that led to six arrests.
Deputy Gary Cassens was conducting a welfare check in January when he heard a shotgun blast in a home. He called for backup, then took in the man for treatment with no further incident.
Deputy Chris Tonge was making a traffic stop when the driver didn't stop, then escaped through a driveway and field, jumping a fence. Tonge safely made the apprehension.
"I work among heroes," McIntyre said, noting that they have been accepting of him as marshal, even though he's a self-admitted "outsider from the Front Range."
"Please thank a cop the next time you see one," McIntyre said at the conclusion of the event.
The evening was sponsored by Southwest Ag, LPEA, Albertson's, Hiebco, Lewis True Value Mercantile, Vectra Bank, Pine Valley Church, the Grocery Store at Bayfield, Tequila's, Amerigas, Dean Reeves CPA, First National Bank of Durango, and Westwind Pipes and Drum Band.