Search for a fallen Law Enforcement Hero.
In 1998, I sat in one of the chairs on which you sit, numbed by the reality that someone had actually murdered our son. One sentence reverberated in my head, “someone killed my child.” Brian was 27 when a 23 year old, so filled with anger at being thrown out of a nightclub for being disorderly, went to his car, got a gun, and started back to the club to kill the off-duty officer who had thrown him out. At the intersection across the street from the club, a marked police cruiser pulled up and stopped for a red light. The perpetrator walked up to the cruiser and fired four shots into the head, neck, and shoulder of that officer, killing him without provocation. The officer was our son, a husband and father of two young daughters, an only sibling to our daughter, and a decorated and proud member of the Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington, D.C.
I sat surrounded by more than 20,000 people, and though my grief was deep and personal, I was more fortunate than many of the survivors around me, for I already knew about an organization called Concerns of Police Survivors. My family and I had learned how important it was to have the peer support of those who had already gone through the emotions we were experiencing and the knowledge that, when we returned home, that ongoing support system made up of other survivors throughout the country would be there to help us rebuild our shattered lives. I was able to sit and listen with pride as tribute was paid to our beloved Brian and over 150 other officers whose families loved them just as much.
I stand before you tonight as President of COPS, representing over 14,000 families across the nation who are members of an organization that we wish we did not belong to, but so thankful that it does exist. I speak not just for them, but for every name engraved on this Wall of Honor. These names belong to husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters not only through blood, but also through “the job”. I believe these officers would have me remind you that they chose this profession, and wore their uniforms and badges with pride and dignity. They protected our cities and towns, both large and small, during the day and while we slept at night. They served our communities so the children who live within them are safe.
As I listen to more than 17,000 voices from these fallen heroes, I hear them say “my family is now your family, and in them you will find the best part of me.” Take care of them for me for I fought the good fight, I finished my race, I kept the faith. It is well with my soul.