by guest author Kate
I’m absolutely heartbroken over the loss of a local hero. The pain is far reaching, from family and friends to students and scouts and everyone in between. My heart hurts for all the loss they are sitting in tonight.
Our job is to love and support. It’s sickening the comments being made on social media- If you weren’t there in the trenches with this hero and his family, you don’t get to pass an ounce of judgment or question his choice. Unfortunately, these demons are exceptionally talented at making everything look “normal” to those of us just glancing over someone’s life. The weight is often unseen and immeasurable for the tired soul.
I don’t normally go here online; I’m private about the weight that we carry being a police family…but it doesn’t mean we don’t have daily awareness about the life he chose, the risks involved and the support we give. Growing up as a granddaughter and niece of police officers I knew the risk and the demands of the job. Our respect for them and their blue family was always high. As a wife, the weight of the badge is so much heavier than I imagined.
We have failed our law enforcement. Period. We have been reckless as a community to write them all off and label them the bad guys in every story in every street in every incident the news reports.
Every group of professionals has bad apples- we don’t stop taking our kids to schools or going to doctors or gymnastics or or or…! We have turned on them and then expect the good guys of the bunch to keep going the extra mile and carrying the weight of our protection while being judged and taunted and disrespected at every turn. The roads they travel, the stories they relive, the losses they’ve experienced. The toll it has taken on their body, mind, lifestyle, family and future is one we will never be able to compensate them for.
We wouldn’t expect someone to continue to function in life without treatment and support if they had a broken limb or a gaping wound. Although we don’t see the breaks and wounds of mental health pain it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
I don’t care who you voted for or what your take on law enforcement is. This isn’t a problem we can afford to ignore. These are our neighbors, our friends, our mentors, our coaches, our protectors, our husbands/wives and fathers/mothers. We need to support them and love them and truly see them. The stigma has to be changed. We can’t stay quiet. Who will we call when we need help? If they don’t get help there will be no officers to dispatch.
They see the unspeakable and are never given the opportunity to process and find healing. They’d rather risk their sanity before risking their job by breaking the silence and finding some freedom and peace. They hunt down the bad guys, they flash on their lights and race to the enemy without hesitation, they comfort you, they make the tough calls, they care about their community and their families and their coworkers just like you and I. They deserve better. We can do better.
Our 8-year-old is wise beyond her years. When told about the loss of a hero she was moved to tears and immediately thought of her daddy and how brave he is and wanted to make sure he knew he was loved and cared for. She related it to her school guidance counselor and said “the police bosses need to schedule everyone appointments even if they just talk about what they ate at Chipotle; at least they will learn to feel safe to share with someone. We need to post something on Facebook so this gets fixed and we get to helping all the others and reminding them they can keep going and lean on us!”
She had lots of questions after school about this-
*What staff member first found him?
*Who told his wife?
*Will they take guns away from school resource officers?
*Will they board up his office and never use it?
*Who will be there to talk to the people at school and other officers, like do they have a degree in tragedy? (My sweet girl and her old soul…Degree in tragedy. Wow!)
I asked if people talked about it at school, if that’s why it was on her mind and she said no, “it’s just horrible and doesn’t leave my brain.” Me too sweetheart, me too.
I don’t have the answers. Just a tremendous amount of pain for a hero who ran out of options, a blue family forever changed. And fear for what the landscape of law enforcement will look like in the years ahead if we don’t support them now.
Tonight as my husband heads to work, I’ll remind him for the millionth time today he can talk to me and that we are proud of him and appreciate him and are always here for him. If you have a LEO in your life, please do the same. Give them a safe place. Some hope in a dark world tonight. Maybe when they are in a dark place your support will spark something in them to look again before saying goodbye.
A tired, scared, sad LEO wife who is standing behind him as he stands behind a very, very thin blue line.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate is your average East Coast girl in her 30’s navigating life as a police wife to a major metro city police officer (her husband has been on the force for 13 years). Supporting and advocating for law enforcement is not new for Kate as she is the granddaughter and niece of retired Baltimore City Police Officers, each serving over 30 years.
Photo credit: The Baltimore Sun