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In a somber service honoring law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, widow Erika Barney said these men were willing "to see the things that no one wants to see."

"[Law enforcement officers] are willing to run into places where other people are running out of, and they're willing to stand up and protect the defenseless," Barney said before a crowd of more than 200 people who gathered for the annual memorial service.

Her husband, Unified Police Officer Douglas Scott Barney, was shot and killed in the line of duty on Jan. 17.

His name, as well as the name of Box Elder County Deputy Sheriff Leon Albert May, who drowned while searching for a drowning victim in the Bear River in April 1953, were added to the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial wall on the lawn west of the state Capitol, making 139 names total.

"What I wish would have happened is that they'd have pulled [May] out, and he'd have gotten home and had a story to tell his family about a close call, and that he'd have retired out of a career of public service an unsung hero and nobody knew his name," said Box Elder County Sheriff Kevin Potter. "But that's not reality. The reality is that law enforcement officers die in the line of duty, and when they do, they're no longer unsung heroes; they're just heroes that deserve to be on this wall."

Erika Barney, who said the memorial service was "more emotional" than anticipated, discussed the "magnificent" attributes that professional law enforcement officers possess.

Along with selflessness and courage, she spoke of a "little bit of cynicism" and a "dark humor that runs through the departments ... that helps them cope" with the traumatic circumstances they frequently encounter.

"I think it's possible to love [the job] and hate it at the same time," Erika Barney said.

Robert Kirby, a Tribune columnist and former Springville police officer who found May's name in an old newspaper, has committed "to read every newspaper ever published in Utah to find these guys" whose names deserve to be on the memorial wall. He has been involved with the memorial for about 25 years.

Kirby said that throughout the field of law enforcement there is "a lot of depression and struggling with things that you see that you wish you could stop seeing."

This year's service fell on the birthday of Kirby's younger brother, who was a police officer who committed suicide.

"So there's a hidden cost in law enforcement, too," he said.

Kirby said that to him the annual service is like a reunion of "families" that have been established through common grief.

"In tragedies I have friendships," said Spring City Marshall Clarke Christensen. "The communities hurt when they lose somebody who protects them, [but] it hurts the community nothing like it does the family."

This year, the Utah Peace Officer Association awarded a posthumous purple heart award to both fallen officers.

Erika Barney and her family accepted the award on behalf of Doug Barney, and May's nieces, Alice John, Cherrol Kearsley and Betty Jimenez, accepted the award on his behalf. Audience members gave them a standing ovation.

John, who was 2 years old when her uncle died and whose father was also a law enforcement officer, said the honor was overwhelming but made them feel "so proud."

Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said during his speech that the sacrifices these officers made ultimately were for the benefit of future generations. Erika Barney said she hopes her grandchildren will remember the love her husband showed by laying his life down for others and how his desire to serve others is what made him a hero.

Gov. Gary Herbert, who also spoke during the ceremony, said those who wish to honor those who have died should try to replicate the type of service they gave.

Douglas Barney, 44, died in a confrontation with Cory Lee Henderson, 31, a fugitive parolee who was fleeing the scene of a traffic accident in Holladay. Henderson later was killed in a shootout with officers, according to police.

Twitter: @mnoblenews