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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa —The West Des Moines Police Department’s most notable annual celebration has returned after a two-year hiatus.

Hundreds gathered outside of the police headquarters to commemorate National Police Week Thursday evening. Officers gave guided tours of the police station, handed out free bicycle helmets, and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the attendees.

While the event was meant to be a celebration, it started on a somber note. The WDMPD Honor Guard saluted the two West Des Moines officers ever killed in the line of duty: Night Marshal Anthony Swatta, who was shot and killed in 1933, and Sgt. Shawn Miller, who died in a crash in 2016.

They also paid tribute to two retired West Des Moines officers who died recently from natural causes. Phil Shelburg, who served from 1963 to 1995, died in December 2020; Douglas Woods, who was on the force from 1974 to 1999, passed away in December 2021.

West Des Moines Police Chief Chris Scott believes the ceremony was the perfect way to bridge law enforcement with the community they serve.

“Too often, we feel like robotic characters, and we are so far from that. There are humans behind the badge,” Scott said. “We’re parents, kids, we have kids. I’m a new grandparent. We’re human, just like everyone who has come to this event.”

The West Des Moines Police Department also graduated its 34 newest officers from its academy during the ceremonies.