Another sunrise. Another Officer down. Total of 67, to date. The latest; she was just sitting in her patrol car. Not bothering anyone. Not taking any action “against” anyone. Just sitting there…In her NYPD uniform. Behind her badge, a badge much like yours and mine, she was just doing her job. Her Obligation. Her Duty. And she was executed for it.
As we all prepare for the travel to San Antonio later this week for the Officer killed there, I am reminded of just how dangerous what we do, really is. I cannot help but look down at the “Mourning Cover” draped across my “Chief’s” badge. Funny, me a Chief. Still cracks me up sometimes. But the Cop in me, he still remains. I assure you. I’ll jump a hot call in a “New York Second”. Always have. Always will.
I could not help this morning, but to think about my own Officers who work for me. Officers like Angela Allen or Pamela Minchew.I thought about the two female Officers from Liberty PD, who helped me on a deal Monday afternoon. I thought of Officer Ann Marie Carrizales, my Friend, my Sister. Office Mayra VC, Trooper Marina Gonzaullas…and the list can go on and on of the amazing, tough, resourceful and above all, dedicated women whom I personally know, who do this job day in and day out. Without fail. Without complaint. They gear up and saddle up just like you and me. They give everything they have, just like we do.
When I reached the 100 mark of Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Services, I stopped counting. I really can’t tell you how many I have attended now. I am going on 29 years in this business and I reckon it’s pretty sad how many Widows / Widowers and Orphans I have stood just feet from in the wake of their loved ones murder.
To stand by the flag draped casket, to stand with the family, to fold our Nations flag, to drop to one knee and gently place the American flag into her hands from your white glove covered hands…to see the tears fall and yet, stoic as can be, not one tear falls from you. Not till it’s done.
Not until later when the sound of TAPS is only reverberating in your head, not the Garden of Stone, from which you all just left. The smoke from the 21 gun salute is drifting among the heaven now, with them whom we’ve said good by to. Amazing Grace, flows from the lone Bagpiper, still thunders deep inside your heart. Every. Single. Beat.
Those left behind in the wake of such senseless violence, are just a part of what haunts me at night. Just one of the many whom trace across my dreams…Those lost. Those left behind.
I can clearly see those whom I served with. Those whom fell in the Line of Duty. Yet …. for some damn unexplained reason, I survived. God knows, I would trade places with anyone of them in an instant. For I know, God surely knows, they were all far better people than I could have ever hoped to be, let alone actually be.
In this career, I have made some life long friends. I have made some well, not so much friends, too. But, let me be clear, in a fire fight…anytime, anywhere, friend or not, if they’re wearing that badge, I’m all in. 100%. I would stand in front of any bullet meant for them and never question why or what for. I would not hesitate to return a bullet meant for them, or me, or any innocent person.
I gotta tell ya….this morning, my heart hurts. It truly does. People always ask “When” or “How is the war on our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers going to ever stop.” My answer is and shall always be the same. Firm and resolute in response;
“It won’t. It never will. Because we, our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers, will never, ever, fail to answer the call. Even if, especially if, it is to be our Last Call.”
So, this morning, my silent, hot cup of coffee is lifted to her, the NYPD Officer. A mother of three children. A lady, a human being, my Sister….I am so sorry. Go with God and rest easy. We got it from here, I promise you. One way or another. We got this….there is no alternative and failure in our mission, is not ever going to be an option. Period.