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Honoring a Police Chief
Sunday, October 24, 2021


At 2:20 Saturday afternoon the End of Watch call went out to all law enforcement departments in the area surrounding Sun Valley:

“Please observe a moment of silence for Police Chief Mike Crawford—4600. Chief Mike Crawford--out of service after dedicating 30 years of service to Sun Valley and its police department.”

The call, placed between Sun Valley’s Assistant Police Chief Kim Orchard and Blaine County Dispatch, marked the last radio call for Crawford as part of a tradition known as End of Watch started in the mid-2000s in police departments across the United States for officers who are killed or have died while on duty.

And it prompted a tearful moment for nearly 100 first responders and another hundred friends and family members who had gathered for Crawford’s Celebration of Life in Sun Valley’s Festival Meadows.

“He had such an impact on a lot of people’s lives, and many of you told us that in the days since he died,” Sun Valley’s City Administrator Walt Femling addressed the crowd.

Crawford, 62, passed away at his home on Tuesday, Oct. 12, following a months-long illness. He served the City of Sun Valley for more than 30 years, most recently as police chief.

In his honor, first responders in police cars and fire trucks paraded through the city of Sun Valley before the ceremony, leaving St. Luke’s Wood River and proceeding up Elkhorn Drive before arriving at Festival of Meadows where the fence was lined with American flags and black balloons.

Bagpiper J.L. Davis of the Caldwell Police Department led the way as a fellow police officer carried Crawford’s urn past police and firefighters standing at attention.

Femling, a former Sun Valley police chief himself, recounted how Crawford had come to Sun Valley in the late 1970s and worked at the Golden Rule grocery store, various restaurants and as a beer deliveryman to pay for his ski habit.

He found his path when he landed a job with the Sun Valley Fire Department. Former Sun Valley Police Chief Cam Daggett recruited him for the Sun Valley Police Department in 1991 and Crawford served every position there was, including corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, assistant chief and, finally, police chief, appointed to his final position in 2020.

“Many times, I told him that he made my job easy as he helped recruit new members,” Daggett said. “He was such a compassionate, professional person that people wanted to work for us.”

Crawford served on the Wagon Days Committee for years, helping to shepherd the mules and the Big Hitch ore wagons through practice.

And he had a special place in his heart for Special Olympics, helping out Special Olympians once a week on Dollar Mountain. He served in vital roles when Sun Valley hosted the state games and then the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games, which brought hundreds of Special Olympic athletes from around the world to Sun Valley.

Femling recounted how a group of skiers who came to Sun Valley to take part in the 2020 National Brotherhood of Skiers event drove to Stanley in a suburban one Sunday only to discover they didn’t have their keys. When they couldn’t find anyone to help, they called the Sun Valley Police, asking that they go by their condo and get a set of keys. When no one at Sun Valley Lodge or elsewhere was available to take the keys to them, the police department called Crawford at home and he readily obliged.

“Who does that?” said Femling. “It’s his day off. He’s going to drive 140 miles over a snowy pass to deliver keys to someone he doesn’t know. They were from Philadelphia and this kind of thing doesn’t happy in Philly. When they left, they not only had a story but they also said Sun Valley might be the most special place they’d ever been. And why is that? Mike Crawford—that’s the culture he built in the department.”

Femling noted that Crawford had “a goofy personality, a sense of humor like nobody else’s. When you’re in law enforcement and you have a stressful day and have someone like Mike Crawford who can make you laugh—no one can replace that.”

Crawford was also calm, in control and a clear thinker during trying situations, said Sun Valley Mayor Peter Hendricks: “His was the most knowledgeable goal-oriented staff in the city. I will miss his judgment, I will miss his guidance, good humor and overall presence.”

He also had “a goofy personality, a sense of humor like nobody else’s,” added Femling. “When you’re in law enforcement and you have a stressful day and have someone like Mike Crawford who can make you laugh—no one can replace that.”

Crawford’s son Marshall Crawford told those present that his Dad had loved to joke. He made awkward situations better and sometimes he made them more awkward, he quipped.

Then he and his sister Taylor Crawford donned sunglasses and, in a move Dad would have approved, sashayed back into the crowd to the tune of Bob Marley’ “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

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