Today was the 2012 Police and Peace Officers Memorial Day, where we take a take a moment to remember those who have given their lives in the line of duty.
But it’s so much more than that.
We must acknowledge the sacrifice of officers and their loved ones, the impact on those left behind, and how those whom have paid the ultimate price have done so, so the rest of us may learn, and survive, a similar situation.
This is not a topic I come to lightly.
My father’s friend and team mate, Sgt Larry Young, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1987. The image of my father’s slumped shoulders when he received the news will forever be emblazoned on my memory.
19 years later, I witnessed the death of one of our finest police dogs, Nitro, as he tried to apprehend a car thief.
I spent a full day in criminal court, testifying as to the car thief’s actions and Nitro’s untimely death. I remember reporters in the courtroom, and one reporter’s sympathetic smile when I finally set foot out of the witness docket.
But the reporter didn’t, couldn’t, understand, even though she clearly wanted to.
This wasn’t a news story.
This was someone’s life.
So every time an officer makes the ultimate sacrifice and dies in the line of duty, I am snapped back to the devastation left behind.
No officer starts their day thinking they may not be going home at the end of shift, but it is a reality every officer needs to look squarely into the face of.
It CAN happen.
So to all officers – be prepared and repeat the following words so often touted by Sgt Betsy Brantner Smith as a talisman against those who would do us harm: