WEST VALLEY CITY — A room at Granger High School was prepared Tuesday night for a ceremony to honor the good things officers do, including a special screening of a new documentary about police.
The documentary focuses on the extraordinary jobs law enforcement officers do every single day. It's called "Heroes Behind the Badge,” and tells the stories of officers who were caught in the line of fire while on duty. Some survived, some didn't.
"This film is very moving and it’s very powerful,” executive producer Bill Erfurth said. “But it was made for a purpose. It was made to change perceptions and attitudes towards greater respect and appreciation and understanding the losses within law enforcement."
Erfurth thinks there seems to be more of a lack of respect for police officers these days. This, at least partially, could be attributed to the public not having all the facts.
“Every 53 hours, somewhere within America, a law enforcement officer is killed within the line of duty,” he said. “Every 33 minutes, one is critically injured. Those are numbers that are staggering and numbers the public is very, very surprised to find out about.”
Although Erfurth saw the need to tell the stories of the officers involved before filming began, it wasn’t easy to get them to talk about their experiences.
You're asking them to relive the worst days of their lives. And they cry, and the emotion, it's very difficult.
–Bill Erfurth, executive producer of "Heroes Behind the Badge"
"You're asking them to relive the worst days of their lives,” he said. “And they cry, and the emotion, it's very difficult."
Ian Adams of the West Jordan Police Department is optimistic the film can give citizens a look into the special connections amongst officers.
"Hopefully the public will get to see a little bit of the brotherhood we share within our profession," he said.
One of the law enforcement officers in the film is from Utah. He is Utah state parks ranger Brody Young, who was shot nine times a few years ago in Moab. He survived to tell the story.
"One of the rounds actually entered his heart and somehow, miraculously — and even the surgeons can't explain it — the heart belched the slug out and sealed itself,” Erfurth said.
Young's story is one of many in the documentary, but the film is just one part of Tuesday night’s ceremony. Several Utah officers will also be honored.
One award is for Draper officer Derek Johnson, who was killed in the line of duty last year.
"These are stories of sacrifice and survival,” Adams said. “We're focusing on the families of officers who really give a lot and, often, their stories aren't getting told at all."