WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) — The first U.S. police officer killed on duty this year was remembered Monday as a talkative man who loved to fix cars, spend time with his family and greet people with his signature line, “What’s up my brother?”
Unified Police Officer Douglas Scott Barney, 44, was shot and killed on Jan. 17 while responding to a traffic accident in the Salt Lake City area.
He was killed working overtime to pay for cancer treatments, a disease he had recently fought through. He worked in law enforcement for 18 years.
Authorities say the shooter had a history of gun and drug-related charges over the past decade and had walked away from a state-run parolee drug treatment center.
Barney’s 13-year-old son helped push the flag-draped casket carrying his father’s body as several thousand uniformed officers saluted and bagpipe music filled an arena in a Salt Lake City suburb.
After the funeral, hundreds of police vehicles joined a procession south to Orem where Barney was buried. American flags and blue ribbons lined the streets. Officers stood in salute on overpasses, and a digital highway sign read, “Rest in peace Officer Barney.”
Barney was the first Unified Police Department officer slain since it was formed in 2010 to serve communities in the Salt Lake City area.
The crowd included officers from other states, including 70 who came on free JetBlue flights commonly offered for law enforcement officers to travel to funerals of distant colleagues, company spokesman Morgan Johnston said.
Barney’s wife of nearly 20 years, Erika Barney, said her husband’s career brought out the best in him. She said he reveled in high-speed chases, had a knack for sniffing out stolen cars and loved the camaraderie of the law enforcement family.
She recalled how he used to view the Officers Down Memorial website, a practice she once considered morbid but later realized was part of the sense of unity in the profession.
“He considered falling in the line of duty a great privilege he probably would have never have been lucky enough to have,” she said. “This is the greatest honor of his life.”
Barney died just hours before Danville, Ohio, officer Thomas Cottrell was killed, according to the Officer Down Memorial organization. So far, four officers have been killed on duty in the U.S.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder called Barney, who was 6 feet, 5 inches tall, a mountain of a man who looked like he stepped out of the movie, “Braveheart.” Barney’s unique way of gaining the trust of other people was similar to the Irish word “blarney,” Winder said.
“Nothing Doug did was small or quiet,” he said. “His enthusiasm for life was infectious.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Barney represented what’s right with law enforcement. Herbert offered the Barney family hope by citing the Mormon belief that families are reunited in the afterlife. Like the governor, Barney was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Utah lawmakers held a moment of silence for Barney during the first day of the legislative session.
Friend and fellow officer Chris Bertram said Barney had a golden sense of humor, a signature laugh and loved making fast food runs with colleagues. Most of all, he loved his wife and their three children, he said.
He told Erika Barney: “You were more than a wife to Doug, you were a saint,” he said.
Bertram also spoke directly to Barney’s three kids: Matti, 18; Merri, 16; and Jack, 13.
“You gave your dad a reason to brag, and he did a lot,” Bertram said. “Matti, your singing voice, it was his pride. Merri, your artistic talents are his joy. And Jack, your father raised a son who could light up a room just like he did.”