Wife of fallen Utah police officer thanks community, talks about struggles

Dec 3, 2019, 2:46 PM | Updated: 3:37 pm
Kaylyn Shinners found out she was pregnant with Colton, show here with his father's cap and name tag, just days after the funeral of Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners. Photo: William Swanson

SALT LAKE CITY — The widow of the first Utah police officer to die this year in the line of duty is speaking about what life has been like since, and how she hopes to get to Washington, D.C. to honor him in May.

Remembering Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners

As we approach the one year mark of the murder of Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners, Kaylyn Shinners spoke Tuesday extensively for the first time about the joys and sorrows of this past year on KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic Show.

Shinners was gunned down on Jan. 5 as officers were apprehending a fugitive.

Just days after her husband’s funeral in January, Kaylyn learned she was going to have another baby.

“It was really overwhelming at first to find out I was pregnant. But as things settled in, I’m so grateful that Logan has a brother to go through this with, and that they’ll be together.”

“He’s a good baby,” she said.

master officer joseph shinners

Colton Shinners is seen here with his father, Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners’ badge. Photo: William Swanson

Colton is now two months old, and their son Logan is two-and-a-half years old.

Shinners says she’s now trying to raise money for their families and fellow officers to go to Washington, D.C. That’s where they will see her husband’s name placed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, alongside some 21,000 names of other officers killed in the line of duty since they began keeping records in the late 1700s.

“We have a chance to connect with other families that have gone through this, and the officers have a chance to connect with co-workers and friends that have lost. That will be in its own way sad and healing to be with others who understand, and know.”

officer shinners

Deb shares a cuddle with Colton, the son of slain Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners, in the KSL studios.

A GoFundMe account has been set up with a goal to reach $85,000 in donations so several dozen of Master Officer Shinner’s coworkers from the Provo Police Department and his family members can make the trip to DC for the 39th Annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in May 2020.

Utah rallies behind grieving families

During her live interview, Kaylyn talked about how grateful she has been for everyone’s support.

officer shinners

Kaylyn Shinners with son Colton alongside Debbie Dujanovic in the KSL studios on Dec. 3, 2019.

“I can’t thank people enough for even the little things. People tell me they are thinking about me, they are praying for me, they love me. It is so wonderful, and it is overwhelming,” Kaylyn said.

On social media, KSL NewsRadio listeners rallied behind Kaylyn as she nervously prepared for her first interview:

Love to your family and this beautiful little one.

Words cannot express the extreme sorrow for your loss.

I used to work at the Provo PD, and have thought and prayed over your family often this past year.

Kaylyn emphasized how appreciative she is for the love she feels.

It strengthens me on those days that are dark and heavy and I don’t want to get up and do anything,” she said.

Legacy of a fallen hero

As Kaylyn prepares to mark year one since her husband’s death, she can take comfort in knowing that Utahns never seem to forget their fallen heroes and the sacrifices their families have made.

special agent sam cowley

Photo: FBI

In fact, it’s been 85 years since FBI Special Agent Sam Cowley, who has family living in Utah and Idaho, was killed during a gunfight with notorious bank robber Baby Face Nelson. Nelson was named the FBI’s public enemy #1 and Director J. Edgar Hoover put Cowley in charge of tracking him down. Cowley, his partner, and Nelson were all killed in a hail of gunfire in November of 1934.

This Thanksgiving weekend a crowd of family, friends and FBI special agents gathered at a cemetery in Salt Lake City to place an American flag on Cowley’s headstone and pay tribute to a man who sacrificed his life to stop an infamous one-man crime wave.

His great-nephew, Peter Sadler, addressed the crowd of supporters who’d driven through a snowstorm to honor Cowley.

“Sam’s commitment and dedication, and his complete integrity to the American people in the pursuit of justice is second to none,” he said.

Sadler said the memorial for his great uncle is proof that officers like Shinners and others, who lay down their lives in the line of duty are never forgotten.

Sam Cowley, Jr., the son of Special Agent Sam Cowley, attended a memorial service in honor of his father 85 years after he was gunned down in a shootout with a notorious gangster. Photo: Debbie Dujanovic At the memorial service for Special Agent Sam Cowley, 85 years after he was gunned down in a shootout with Baby Face Nelson. Photo: Debbie Dujanovic Peter Sadler, the great-nephew of Special Agent Sam Cowley, spoke at a memorial for the fallen agent in Salt Lake City last month. Photo: Debbie Dujanovic At the memorial service for Special Agent Sam Cowley, 85 years after he was gunned down in a shootout with Baby Face Nelson. Photo: Debbie Dujanovic FBI agents and other law enforcers gathered Nov. 29, 2019 at Wasatch Lawn Cemetery to honor Special Agent Sam Cowley, killed in the line of duty in November 1934. Photo: Debbie Dujanovic At the memorial service for Special Agent Sam Cowley, 85 years after he was gunned down in a shootout with Baby Face Nelson. Photo: Debbie Dujanovic

“It doesn’t matter which agency you work at, people who get into this line of work and end up giving their lives will never be forgotten.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Wife of fallen Utah police officer thanks community, talks about struggles