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Davis Journal

Davis County Sheriff’s Office honors fallen officers

May 23, 2024 08:42AM ● By Becky Ginos
Syracuse Police Chief Garret Atkin and Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks Lay the Wreath at the Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony held last week. Photo courtesy of the DCSO

Syracuse Police Chief Garret Atkin and Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks Lay the Wreath at the Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony held last week. Photo courtesy of the DCSO

FARMINGTON—It was a bittersweet occasion at the Davis County Sheriff’s Office last week at  a Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony that was held for four men who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while serving the community. May 15 has been designated as National Peace Officer Memorial Day and the Sheriff’s Office honors Davis County’s fallen officers each year during that week.

A gathering of law enforcement officers and families of the fallen remembered the men with an honor guard gun salute, a bagpipes rendition, Taps and the Laying of the Wreath by Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks and the Chiefs of Police from each city. 

The men who died are: Trooper George Rees, Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) 1960; Deputy Don Jensen, Davis County Sheriff’s Office, 1971: Lt. Thomas Rettberg, UHP and Officer Charles B. Skinner, North Salt Lake PD, 2008.

The Davis County Sheriff’s Office provided the following information about the men who died:

Trooper George Dee Rees died in a traffic crash in Davis County July 2, 1960. He was part of a roadblock in Farmington to intercept a stolen car fleeing from other officers. When Rees received a radio transmission reporting the stolen vehicle was approaching, he got into his vehicle and drove toward it. The suspect rounded a curve at a high speed and crashed into Rees who died as he was being extricated.

Deputy Don Perry Jensen died May 14, 1971 when he was shot and killed in Farmington. Jensen was on patrol when he saw an individual waving him down. He pulled over. The driver approached Jensen’s patrol vehicle and told him he was out of gas. Jensen started to become suspicious of the man because his vehicle matched the description of an “Attempt to Locate Broadcast” for a stolen vehicle out of the Ogden area. The suspect pulled out a .38 caliber handgun from his belt and fired the weapon five times through the side window of Jensen’s window without allowing him any time to react and killed him instantly.

Shortly after the shots were fired, the suspect’s accomplice who was hiding across the roadway ran over to Jensen’s vehicle and fired a single .22 caliber round into the deputy’s body. They pulled Jensen’s body out of the vehicle, stole the vehicle and left the scene.

Lt. Thomas Sumner Rettburg died in a helicopter accident on Feb. 11, 2010 when he and civilian mechanic Thomas Bahoravitch were performing a maintenance check on a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter near 1500 South and Redwood Rd. According to witnesses, a part separated from the aircraft while performing a practice dive that they were not able to recover from. The aircraft slammed into an embankment killing them both.

Officer Charles B. Skinner died Nov. 8, 2008 five days after he lost control of his patrol vehicle while responding to assistance from another agency pursuing a stolen car. On Nov. 3, Skinner’s vehicle collided with the concrete base of a business sign. He was flown to a hospital with severe head injuries and passed away five days later. Skinner left behind his wife and three-week-old twins.

“Hi, my name is Emma Skinner,” the daughter of Charlie Skinner said at the ceremony. “When my brother and I were three weeks old Charlie died.”

 How one grieves is different for everyone, she said. “When I was younger I used to search the internet to find everything I could about him, hoping to get to know him a bit more. I scoured the internet hoping to make that dad figure a bit more than just my DNA.”

Emma said people have asked her why she grieves if she hasn't even met him. “My grief is a lifetime of memories I missed because of one person speeding. It’s the fact that I’ll never get to meet him.”

It’s a collection of pictures and stories, she said. “How they’ll stay stories is the fact that that father figure will never be completely filled. That there will never be that one person who takes you out for ice cream after getting a good grade in school.”

There will always be an empty hole for that, said Emma. “I surprise a lot of people when they see me cry over him. Behind that mask is a little girl wanting to hold her father’s hand and walk her into her first year of school. The little girl who just wants him to hold her and teach her how to ride a bike. A little girl who just wants a hug from her number one fan. I am that little girl who just wants someone to call dad.”