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The death of an officer

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It is sometimes it's difficult for mere mortals to comprehend the grand scheme of things. A young Salt Lake police officer leaves home for his shift, bidding his wife and three daughters age 5, 3 and 1 goodbye as he has dozens of times. This time, officer Michael Dunman doesn't return home. He is struck and killed by a car that jumped a curb. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

While police work is inherently dangerous, the flukish nature of this accident renders it more difficult to make sense of what has occurred. At times like this, all we can do is offer condolences to the family of officer Michael Dunman and thank the Utah men and women in law enforcement for their service to our communities.

Dunman was the 19th Salt Lake City officer to die while on duty. The last on-duty death occurred in 1982 when Sgt. Ronald Heaps was shot and killed as he was serving a warrant. Dunman's death serves as a reminder of the many varied hazards law enforcers encounter in their work. We are grateful for their service.

Dunman, 30, joined the police force in 1994. He had worked as a patrolman, worked undercover in narcotics enforcement and had worked the last year as a bicycle patrol officer, an assignment his wife said he relished.

Dunman was one of seven officers Liberty Patrol Unit, the smallest of three bicycle patrol units in the city. Because bike patrol officers become fixtures in the communities they serve, Dunman's death has not only rocked his associates but very likely, the people he encountered on the beat. Bike patrols are effective community policing tools because the officers are viewed as approachable. The patrols have also proved effective in curbing street crime because of the "stealth" nature of bicycles.

Law enforcement was but one part of Dunman's life. He was a devoted husband and father to his three daughters, with whom he practiced soccer, swam and tucked into bed at night.

He worked with LDS teenagers as the second counselor in the Young Men's presidency in the Tooele White Pine Ward. Dunman, an athletic 6 feet and 185 pounds, was an avid golfer. He also enjoyed lifting weights and riding his bicycle. His loss will surely affect those communities as well.

When any officer dies, a community mourns the loss whether or not they had a personal acquaintance. In this particular case, the community grieves for the loss of a young man, husband and father who chose as his profession to serve and protect Salt Lake City. Today, we salute him.