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Law enforcement holds memorial service

Keith Winger sang two songs to honor law enforcement officials at a Peace Officers Memorial Service Thursday evening at the Beltrami County courthouse pergola. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI- Following the theme "In memory of many, in honor of all," The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the Bemidji Police Department and the State Highway Patrol honored the death of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2011.

According to the preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, there were 173 officers killed in the line of duty in 2011, up from 153 in 2010, including two Minnesota Police Officers; Officer Shawn Schneider of the Lake City Police Department and Officer Mike Pollitz.

Schneider was one of 68 officers who died from a firearm, when he died on Dec. 30, 11 days after being shot after responding to a domestic disturbance call.

2011 was the first year in 14 years that more officers died from firearms than traffic related incidents.

"We've been very fortunate, around here, to have managed not to have any deaths of that nature for some time," Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said.

The memorial service honored Mark Holter, who died on May 13 at the age of 53.

Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said that it is not just the in-the-line-of-duty deaths that need to be remembered, but all officers who put their lives on the line each day.

"When I came into this profession, overwhelmingly I began to understand that we are a family," Mastin said. "We look out for each other and are there for each other in the good times and the bad times."

The memorial service went in conjunction with National Law Enforcement Awareness Week, with services going on around the country to honor those lost in the line of duty.