Law enforcement officers in Black Hawk County took time to remember their fallen comrades on Wednesday (May 18, 2016).

Officers from each of the county’s 10 agencies gathered for a ceremony to honor the 13 local men who have died while trying to protect the public. The ceremony, held this year at Overman Park in Cedar Falls, is an annual event that takes place during National Police Memorial Week.

The group of Black Hawk County officers who gave their lives in the line of duty over the years includes seven policemen from Waterloo, one from Cedar Falls, a La Porte City officer, two Black Hawk County sheriff’s deputies, and two Iowa State Patrol troopers.

The list includes: John Bailey – Waterloo (died in 1902); Fred Widmann – Waterloo (1908); William Goodenbour – Waterloo (1920); Vinton Margretz – Waterloo (1925); W. Fay Dilworth – Black Hawk County (1932); Everett Dutcher – Cedar Falls (1945); William Mehlhorn, Jr. – Waterloo (1956); Gabriel LaFromboise – La Porte City (1976); Wayne Rice and Michael Hoing – Waterloo (1981); William Mullikin – Black Hawk County (1981); Charles Whitney – Iowa State Patrol (1985); and Lance Dietsch – Iowa State Patrol (1989).

They are gone, but not forgotten.

"It's important for us to remember that, in addition to the ultimate cost paid by the slain officer, that officer's family and friends will continue to bear a high cost, long after the officer's funeral is over," Retired FBI agent Randy Van Gent said during his keynote address. "For those of us who chose law enforcement, we all raised our right hand and swore an oath. We took this oath willingly and freely with a full understanding that our allegiance to this obligation includes the possibility of making the ultimate sacrifice."

The 13 local officers are among 181 who have died in the line of duty state-wide since 1868. Among them are four officers whose names were added to the State Memorial in Des Moines on May 6.

"Many in our society are ambivalent when a law enforcement death occurs; some in our society applaud and celebrate when a law enforcement death occurs," Van Gent said. "However, thankfully, most in our society view the death of a law enforcement officer as it should be seen -- a sacrificial and tragic event."

Van Gent noted that 20,843 law enforcement officers have died in this country between 1791 -- when the U.S. Marshals Service was formed -- and 2015. The figures include 59 special agents of the FBI (since 1908). He said the numbers show an average of 91 officers are killed across the United States each year. Or, as Van Gent pointed out, a line-of-duty death occurs somewhere in the nation every fourth calendar day -- and has for each of the past 224 years.

"Imagine how society would view such a high casualty rate if this casualty occurred in other professions," Van Gent said. "What if 91 attorneys died every year doing their job? Image the outcry if 91 politicians died each year while on the job."

Each law enforcement agency in Black Hawk County takes a turn at organizing the local Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony, which is rotated among them. This year's event was hosted by Cedar Falls police.