LOCAL NEWS

Police wives make ribbons as symbol of support for Sgt. Bill Hooser’s funeral

May 9, 2024, 9:04 AM | Updated: May 10, 2024, 10:24 am

LEHI — Wives of police officers across Utah County came together Wednesday evening, making ribbons to honor Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser, who was killed in the line of duty last weekend.

It may have been a last-minute gathering, but the women who sat around two tables in Ashley Blake’s dining room and living room, wouldn’t have missed it.

MaKenzie Hager didn’t have a babysitter for her four children, with her husband working the grave shift for the American Fork Police Department. So she brought her family in tow, as she sat at one of the tables gluing strips of thin blue ribbon onto strips of wider black ribbon.

She twisted the strips to form a lapel ribbon, securing it with hot glue and eventually adding a silver star.

The black and blue ribbons, which are being made by police wives across the state this week, will be handed out to everyone who attends Hooser’s funeral, which will be held at the UCCU Center in Orem on Monday.

MaKenzie Hager holds up a lapel ribbon on her daughter. (KSL TV)

“It’s kind of a reminder for those officers to take home and look at and not forget him, not forget his name, not forget what happened,” she said.

When Hager first heard about Hooser’s death, she said she immediately wondered if he had a wife and a family.

He did.

Hooser, who police say was deliberately hit and killed by a semitruck driver, left behind his wife of 29 years, two daughters and a baby granddaughter.

“It’s just it’s so heartbreaking, it’s so sad. My heart’s broken for her family,” Hager said, of Hooser’s wife. “And I just seriously just couldn’t believe it. It’s just, it’s awful.”

Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser, middle, with his family. (KSL TV)

Hager and the other women she met up with Wednesday are all married to law enforcement officers, many with children — just like Hooser and his family.

VIDEO: Candlelight vigil for fallen Sgt. Bill Hooser

They all share the same understanding of the long hours their spouses work — “graves are the worst,” Hager joked — as well as an understanding of the traumatic and heart-wrenching situations their spouses encounter at work. Hager said they all share a connection because of the things they can talk about.

They also all share the same fear.

“That it could be my husband at any point, and there’s no guarantee anymore that as soon as he leaves the door that he’s going to come back,” Ashley Blake said. “You know, that’s, that’s any one of our worst nightmare.”

Ashley Blake, right, glues together lapel ribbons for Sgt. Bill Hooser’s funeral. (KSL TV)

Blake, whose husband works for the Saratoga Springs Police Department, said she wanted to open her home to support the women in her community and provide a place to build a sense of support and belonging as they made ribbons for the funeral.

“We experience a collective grief of sorts,” Blake said. “That we’re reminded the dangers of the job and the stresses of the job, and the reality of what that means for us right now.”

Finding ways to show love and support during a time of heartbreak

As the group talked and formed a camaraderie, they also processed the heavy week for Utah’s police community.

Blake said tying ribbons helps them heal, while also sending a message of support to the entire blue family.

A police wife loops together blue ribbon for a lapel. (KSL TV)

“I think it’s a way for us as the spouses to honor the fallen officer,” she said, holding one of the folded lapel ribbons in her hands. “It’s a cathartic experience for us to work through this together and to make something that is an actual symbol of that support.”

They expressed the hope that every family member and officer who wears one of those small symbols next week will feel a huge sense of love, knowing a community is standing behind them.

“They’re human, they have families,” Hager said. “They deserve gratitude. They deserve respect.”

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Police wives make ribbons as symbol of support for Sgt. Bill Hooser’s funeral