Louis Freeh, director of the FBI from September 1993 to June 2001, spoke at the 31st South Dakota Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner and Children's Charity fundraiser last night. The hall was full, my guess is somewhere around 1700 people at the Ramkota in Sioux Falls.

Mr. Freeh gave a short history of the Bureau, told stories about some of his experiences, both as an agent, a lawyer, and a judge. There were some laughs and chuckles. His main message was the importance of cooperation among all agencies, local, state, and federal. and the camaraderie shared. He mentioned how wonderful it was of our Governor to personally visit an injured highway patrol officer in the hospital.(More about Trooper Steen in a moment)

With all of his years in law enforcement, Freeh's most difficult and emotionally trying investigation was the Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, case. "Lives were changed forever," he said.

That comment led into congratulations to the people involved with the Appreciation Dinner and Children's Charity Fundraiser. He spoke of the positive relationship law enforcement officers can have with children, and how the fundraising results will positively affect the lives of many kids. He noted how it can be one thing in a child's life which can show them positive alternative paths to take. Over $25,000 dollars and 550 bicycles were presented to various children's charities.

Two other highlights of the event included a report from Governor Daugaard on Highway Patrolman Andrew Steen, critically injured in an accident a few weeks ago. According to Daugaard,  Steen is out of the induced coma, hears and understands words, was able to shake the Governor's hand. Long applause followed his report.

A new award was created and presented last evening. Former Police Detective Mike Larsen, received the first William J. Janklow Award for the Law Officer of the Year. Det. Larsen connected small pieces of information which ultimately led to the questioning, gaining of DNA, and mud from the pickup truck owned by Donald Moeller,  in the Becky O'Connell murder case.

I have attended this event for many years. Well known and respected people have spoken including former first lady Laura Bush. There is a sense of positive energy in the room. The caring side of law enforcement comes through with the successful fundraising for charity.