Provo mourns loss of officer with candlelit vigil

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Provo citizens gather for a vigil held in honor of Joseph Shinners on Jan. 9. (Claire Gentry)

Families and children stood as one at the Provo Police Department on Jan. 9 during a vigil held in honor of Provo police officer Joseph Shinners, who was shot and killed on-duty on Saturday, Jan. 5.

Hundreds of people, old and young, attended the vigil to commemorate Shinners’ life. They lit candles symbolizing love, respect and unity for the city of Provo.

The vigil involved numerous stories and accounts of Shinners’ character, as well as encouraging words toward the Shinner family. Shinners’ parents, brothers and fellow police officers were among those who attended.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi spoke, offering words of condolence to Shinners’ family and the Provo community.

Mayor Michelle Kaufusi addresses the Provo community at Joseph Shinners’ candlelight vigil on Jan. 9. (Claire Gentry)

“In your faces, I see love, compassion and overall decency,” Kaufusi said.

Kaufusi encouraged Provo citizens to support Shinners’ family with “glowing warmth.”

“I can tell you that I feel the swell of love and support that this community has for you,” Kaufusi said to Shinners’ family. “Whether you can feel it now or not, I feel certain that at times in life, you will feel that heaven and Joe are watching out for you every day.”

Provo Police Chief Rich Ferguson followed Kaufusi’s remarks, thanking the hundreds in attendance and offering encouraging words to the Shinners family.

“I wish you knew the character of all of the police officers,” Ferguson said. “(Shinners) wasn’t afraid to get in there and take the bad guy to jail, but he also was the guy to give a hug to somebody who was on their way to jail. That’s his character and that’s who he was.”

On behalf of the Provo Police, Ferguson spoke of the need for resilience as police officers

Chief Rich Ferguson speaks at the Jan. 9 vigil about the need of resilience. (Claire Gentry)

and the Provo community overcome the tragedy.

Ferguson used the example of a tree branch that repeatedly bows and bounces right back up. He said this process was happening in Provo.

“Just tonight we had to do another SWAT operation, and I’m thankful to say that all of the officers are safe,” Ferguson said. “I want you to know that that’s who these officers are.”

Shinners’ father-in-law Ryan Swanson offered words of gratitude and mourning.

“On behalf of Kaylyn (Shinners’ wife), we want to thank you,” Swanson said. “My Joey was about love, family, friends and the citizens he served, all of you. His personality touched everyone he met.”

Officers from Shinners’ police department also spoke, mentioning the shining capabilities Shinners displayed daily. They gave condolences to Shinners’ wife and son, Kaylyn and Logan.

The service closed with a sermon and community prayer from the Provo Police Department chaplain and words of love and encouragement from Captain Brian Wolken.

“Many police officers including myself have questioned why we are in this profession,” Wolken said. “It’s who we are — it’s our calling. The support of the community changes my mind.”

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