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North Salt Lake officer is given hero’s sendoff

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NORTH SALT LAKE, Utah — Their uniforms were black, blue, tan and even white. But the hundreds of fellow law-enforcement officers who Friday paid final respects to fallen North Salt Lake officer Charlie Skinner weren't divided by boundaries Friday.They were one.Skinner, 30, died last week from injuries suffered in a car crash while in pursuit of a stolen vehicle.Although Skinner, who had previously worked at the Salt Lake Police Department, had only worked for North Salt Lake for less than a year, it was evident at the funeral that even in his short time there he made a profound difference.The Bountiful-Woods Cross Regional Center was surrounded by police cars and motorcycles as officers from all over the state and nation converged on the funeral services that celebrated the officer's love for his job, faith and, most importantly, his family.His wife, Kaitlyn, was surrounded by family, friends and the many officers who were concerned for the Skinner family, whether they knew him or not. The Skinners married in 2006 in the Bountiful LDS Temple. They became parents to twins Zack and Emma just a month ago.Inside the building, photos of the officer, some with his department and others with his wife and their newborn bundles, were displayed. Next to the photos, a blanket with the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial logo was on display with the phrase, "All give some, some give all."Charlie Skinner's father in-law, Bountiful Police Sgt. Gary Koehn, in his eulogy, spoke of Skinner's desire to serve others, and the commitment and love he felt for his family."His life truly began when he married his 'Sunshine,"' Koehn said. He added later that, "Charlie loved his family and spent every possible moment with his wife holding the new babies."Two of the officer's North Salt Lake co-workers spoke of how important the job had been to the fallen officer.Sgt. Mitch Gwilliam described Skinner as soft-spoken, adding that while he didn't always say much, the words he did speak were powerful.Lt. Craig Beckstrand, who participated in hiring Skinner, said he will never forget the enthusiasm he saw in the young officer who was taken too soon."I gave him his gun and badges, and a very big smile came upon his face when I gave them to him," Beckstrand said. "I then handed him the keys to his new cruiser and he lit right up. He asked the chief if he could take the car to show his family. He was so proud."Skinner's mother in-law, Susan Koehn, spoke of how important being a good husband and father was to him. She said that before the babies were born he read several books and asked for tips on how to be a better father. He called his son "Zackaroni" and his daughter was "Daddy's little M&M.""He was an excellent police officer and we know in that capacity he died a hero," Koehn said. "As a family man he was a loving husband, an unbelievable father and he was a hero in our lives every day."Perhaps the most touching moment was a piano medley, which included the couple's favorite song, "You Are My Sunshine." Another song was "Teach Me to Walk," which the two sang to their children every night as they rocked them to sleep, Susan Koehn said.A full-honors police procession left the funeral to the graveside service at the Bountiful Cemetery. The long procession went through an arch created by two firetruck ladders and an American flag hung between them.Skinner was then laid to rest with a 21-gun salute, helicopter flyovers and bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace."The flag draped over his casket was folded and presented to his wife.A basket of flowers sat near his casket, decorated with a banner that bore only one word: "Daddy."Memorial fund set upA fund has been set up at Zions Bank in officer Charlie Skinner's name to help the family pay for medical and funeral expenses. Donations can be made at any Zions Bank branch.

E-mail: ethomas@desnews.com