(ABC 6 News) – One year after being approved by state legislators, a new Minnesota license plate is honoring fallen heroes.
One Dodge County man made it his mission to see these plates on vehicles across the state.
“I’ve been around law enforcement my whole life,” Roger Berge said.
Berge may not be an officer or a deputy, but law enforcement is a big part of who he is.
“My father was a deputy when I was born, and I’ve known most of the guys that worked there at that time,” Berge said. “He is in his 51st year with Olmsted County.”
Unfortunately, Berge has felt the impact of a line of duty death more than once.
“In most recent years with a line of duty death in Dodge County where I live with Captain Loring Guenther in 2013, prior to that, my father, his partner was shot and killed May 17, 1977,” Berge said.
Olmsted County Sheriff’s Deputy Jack Werner died that day, trying to stop a suspect who was driving erratically.
“I do remember him as kind of one of the star cops,” Berge said. “Somebody everybody looked up to.”
This is one reason why Berge said he started a push for Minnesota license plates that would honor fallen members of law enforcement and donate money to their families.
“You realize that every day they go to work, they are really putting themselves at risk and there’s a lot of uncertainty in today’s world in terms of their own safety,” Rochester Senator Dave Senjem said.
Berge teamed up with the community and local legislators like Dave Senjem to legalize the plates.
“The plates help fund important projects for the law enforcement memorial association to recognize fallen police officers and their families,” Senjem said.
A number of people from the local communities in southeast Minnesota testified in favor of these plates at the capital in St. Paul last year. The plates were officially legalized last spring.
“When you see the license plate, remember the pictures on there represent the people who are not here, that died protecting the freedoms that we have today, we have soldiers overseas that protect our freedoms, we have peace-keepers here in the United States, and thank God for both,” Berge said.
These specialty license plates are available now across Minnesota. They’re available at any local DMV. They cost $35 and proceeds from the plates go towards the Law Enforcement Memorial Association to help families of fallen officers.