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Elks honor civil servants

by Jay Hamburger

Some Parkites seem to wait until Sept. 11 each year to honor police officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters.

They will do so again next month but several people in law enforcement and emergency services were also recognized last weekend for their service to the community.

The Park City lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks on Saturday acknowledged five people from agencies serving Summit County.

They are:

( Vaifoa Lealaitafea, from the Park City Police Department.

( Salvador Segura, who is with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

( John Bovi, from the Park City Fire District.

( Jed Jorgenson, from the Utah Highway Patrol

( Michelle Andersen, an emergency medical technician.

"We are very grateful on a personal level to all these types of folks who perform duties oftentimes unrecognized," says Craig Cooper, who is with the Elks and helps organize the annual honors, now five years old. "My respect has grown deeper every year I’ve done this."

Cooper describes the people in public safety as holding tough, challenging jobs. They are unselfish, he says.

"Their primary function is to protect most of us," he says.

He remembers being injured in two traffic accidents that Cooper describes as serious. The emergency personnel saved him in each of the wrecks, one on a motorcycle and one in a car in the 1970s in the Chicago area.

"In both cases, my life was in danger. Without the help of people like this, I wouldn’t have made it," Cooper says.

Phil Kirk, a Police Department lieutenant, says that the emergency workers perform duties that lots of Parkites do not realize, such as speaking to organizations like the Girl Scouts and working with school districts.

"On a daily basis, these folks are doing a lot of things for the community," Kirk says, adding that they, "keep the community safe and maintain the quality of life we value so much."

Sheriff Dave Edmunds agrees and says that he is pleased that Segura was selected.

"I’m ecstatic about it, the fact that one of my deputies, who just goes out and does his job every day is being honored," Edmunds says.

The sheriff says that lawmen hold critical jobs, similar in importance as those held by teachers and doctors.

"I don’t think there’s a more important job on the face of the earth," Edmunds says. "If you don’t have law enforcement, you have anarchy."

He says that people who choose careers in law enforcement and emergency services see their jobs as their callings.

"At the end of the day, you get to go home and know you made a difference," Edmunds says.


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