Friday morning, a dozen or so Casper police officers stood in front of the Natrona County Hall of Justice. They snapped to attention as a flag was lowered to half-mast.

They were there to honor the only Casper police officer to die in the line of duty along with the others who have died wearing a badge throughout the United States.

Friday is National Police Officer Memorial Day, which is a part of the larger National Police Week.

Casper Police Dept. Lieutenant Dan Dundas said officers within the department are fortunate to work in as supportive of a community as they do.

Still, Friday's ceremony is nonetheless a reminder of the risks men and women in law enforcement take every day.

"Could this be the last time I get to drive my cruiser," Dundas said. "Could this be the last time I get to hit the street. This makes us realize how lucky we are to continue in this line of work. There's a chance we might not come home."

The year 2019 saw 146 police officers lose their lives in the line of duty, according to the Casper Police Department.

Casper has seen one law enforcement officer die in the line of duty over the years.

On November 15, 1925, Casper firefighters were responding to a fire when a hose nozzle fell off a fire truck. Choosing not to go home at the end of his shift, Officer George Radden retrieved the nozzle from the roadway and was taking it back to the fire station when he struck a vehicle on his three-wheeled motorcycle.

He suffered severe head injuries and died three days later after undergoing brain surgery. He was 40. 

Community support

Dundas said support from the Casper community hasn't dwindled during the COVID-19 pandemic, though it does look a little different. With a national shortage of personal protective equipment, for example, community members have donated their time to make face coverings for Casper's police officers.

It hasn't been an uncommon sight to see officers enjoying a game of "cop scotch" with the community's children throughout the pandemic.

Dundas said the take on hopscotch was the product of officers brainstorming, and it's been a morale booster for both children stuck at home and the officers who patrol their community.

"It's helped some of our officers keep their sanity," Dundas said. "They've gone a little stir crazy not being as active.

"Little things like that have helped maintain our happiness and what we do. It's brought us closer."

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