Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office recognizing fallen officers this week

National Police Week ran May 11 through 17, which included National Peace Officer Memorial Day on May 15, and was observed by the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, which took the opportunity to recognize all off the law enforcement officers throughout the county, particularly those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving their life in the line of duty, said Sheriff Tom Kaase.

Fillmore County deputy Walter William Kruegel, 59, died in the line of duty on Nov. 10, 1954, and Grand Meadow officer Jason Brent Meyer, 28, from Spring Valley, died in the line of duty on Sept. 6, 1999.

Deputy Kruegel died from gunshot wounds sustained nine days earlier while transporting a prisoner. The prisoner produced a concealed .22 caliber handgun and shot Kruegel twice. Kruegel was able to struggle with the man and gain control of the gun, but the man fled. The suspect was eventually apprehended and charged with murder after Kruegel died.

Deputy Kruegel had served with the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office for several years under three sheriffs.  He was survived by his wife and two daughters.   

Police office Jason Meyer was killed in a single-car crash while responding to a call for assistance from a deputy in a neighboring agency. Meyer lost control of his patrol car while rounding a corner from Minnesota Highway 16 onto U.S. Highway 63, striking a utility pole. 

Officer Meyer had served on the Grand Meadow Police Department for nine months as a part-time officer.  He was survived by his wife, Sara, and his parents.

A website that lists the details of all the southeastern Minnesota law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty is at http://lawenforcementmemorial.org/fallen-officers.html.

During this year’s National Police Week and National Peace Officer Memorial Day, the lives of 129 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2017 will be nationally recognized at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.  This “in the line of duty death” number has decreased 10 percent from 2016, which was 143.

An additional tragic part of the law enforcement profession, noted Kaase, is that in 2017 there were 140 suicides by law enforcement officers. This number also recognizes the toll of the pressures that affects the lives and families of officers in our careers.

The Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation of Southeastern Minnesota,  https://www.facebook.com/ROCLEMA/?ref=bookmarks, has been working on fundraising for the building of a local law enforcement memorial. This memorial, when completed, will be located in the Soldiers Field Park, in Rochester.

“I have the honor and privilege of being a board member of this foundation,” said Kaase. “To be part of a group that is making a local memorial for deputy Kruegel and officer Meyer a reality, is truly an honor.”

There will be a local law enforcement memorial program held at the Soldiers Field memorial in Rochester, 300 SW 7th St., on Friday, May 18, at 5:30 p.m. The service, to be held outside with a rainout site also available, is open to the public.