ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Five Minnesota police officers killed in the line of duty last year were honored Sunday at the State Capitol as part of National Peace Officer Memorial Day.
Gov. Tim Walz joined police from around the state to pay tribute at the first in-person ceremony since 2019.
"Those names must never be forgotten, and that their sacrifice must always be on the minds of Minnesotans," Walz said. "The gift that they give to Minnesotans of safety and security in our homes and our communities is unimaginable, but it comes at a terrible price."
The ceremony took place beside the memorial to Minnesota's fallen officers, a tangible reminder of their ultimate sacrifice.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association has come up with a non-physical way to permanently honor these officers' lives: NFTs.
"It's like a digital tombstone," said retired Edina Police Sgt. Kevin Rofidal.
NFT stands for non-fungible token, and they're essentially online images, graphics or videos that can be verified as unique and authentic.
The MPPOA created 2,021 NFTs depicting a spinning police challenge coin with the names and agencies of the six Minnesota officers who died in the line of duty last year.
A $20 donation to the MPPOA comes with the option of owning one of the NFTs.
"It becomes a way to memorialize them forever and then, you know, you can collect them," Rofidal said. "This is just the first in a series that we plan to launch. Right now we're the only ones in the world that have honored police officers, that we know of, using this digital NFT technology."
As part of the ceremony, the families of the fallen officers were honored as well.
The officers honored in the NFT are Deputy Sheriff Jayme Williams of the Itasca County Sheriff's Office, Officer Ronald Smith of the New York Mills Police Department, Officer Ryan Bialke of the Red Lake Nation Police Department, Officer Charlie Banks, Jr. of the Deerwood Police Department, Conservation Officer Sarah Grell of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Detention Deputy Mark Anderson of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. For more information, click here.
If you'd like one of the MPPOA's NFTs, click here.
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