Park City poignantly remembers a fallen police officer
Lloyd Evans in 1984 was the lead detective at the Park City Police Department, having been with the force for six years by then.
On the night of July 4 that year, Evans was the commander of the watch, overseeing the deployment of police resources for the Independence Day holiday. After the fireworks display, the Police Department was directing the departing drivers out of the city. Rodney Schreurs, a 33-year-old police officer, was at the intersection of S.R. 224 and Payday Drive directing traffic. A drunken driver in a pickup truck struck Schreurs and he died at a Salt Lake City hospital.
“Horrifying on a number of levels. Your adrenaline is so high and your expectations are that everything’s OK,” Evans said on Monday at an event at Rotary Park marking the anniversary of the death.
The fatal accident still reverberates through the Police Department more than 30 years later. Schreurs is one of only two Park City police officers to die on duty, the other being an officer who was struck by a bullet after his gun inadvertently fired. There has been special consideration within the Police Department regarding directing traffic since the death of Schreurs.
“Whenever you have an officer-down call, it just sort of does something to your insides,” Evans said.
The Park City Police Department on Monday held an event at Rotary Park honoring Schreurs, drawing a crowd of police officers, family members of the fallen officer and City Hall officials. Mayor Jack Thomas, at least three members of the Park City Council and City Manager Diane Foster were among those in attendance.
Evans, who went on to serve 11 years as the chief of police in Park City and has since retired, said in an interview Schreurs, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was relatively new to the department at the time of his death. He “had a nice word whenever you met him,” Evans said.
“He had a deep respect for the law-enforcement service and authority he was given,” Evans said. “He understood his role as an enforcement officer, but he went about it in a community-friendly way.”
Evans told the crowd there were positive changes in the department as a result of the death, including stressing officer safety.
Colleen Schreurs, the widow of the fallen officer, recalled that she asked whether he could stay home that night.
“He kissed me and told me he loved me as he walked out the door,” she said.
The Police Department’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which is named after Schreurs, organized the event. Many of the current officers wore badges designed to match those worn by the Police Department in 1984. The Police Department plans to place plaques at the police station on Park Avenue and the Marsac Building honoring Schreurs.
“I want to make sure he’s always remembered,” said Mikel Archibeque, a police officer who is the president of the Fraternal Order of Police chapter in Park City.
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The Park City post of the American Legion has canceled an annual Memorial Day ceremony normally held at the Park City Cemetery, citing the efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.