Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Grieving with our brothers and sisters in Lakewood, Washington

My heart aches today for our law enforcement brothers and sisters in Lakewood, Wash. Four of their officers were senselessly and violently killed Sunday morning awaiting the start of their shift at a coffee shop. The suspect who did these awful things can no longer hurt anyone else, but that won’t bring those deceased officers back and is cold comfort to their families.

Like so many of our officers, those Lakewood officers were parents. They also were sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and friends, and they will be sorely missed. We grieve with our police family in Washington as they work through this excruciating time.

It also makes me reflect on just how dangerous being a police officer is, whether in a large, urban department like ours or a small, suburban department like that in Lakewood, Wash. Kansas City Missouri Police have been fortunate enough not to lose an officer in the line of duty since 2001, but there have been many close calls since then.

Sunday’s tragedy is a grim reminder that officers must always be on guard. The simplest call could turn into a life-and-death situation. In this case, the officers were just doing paperwork in a coffee shop. The article in today’s Kansas City Star discusses how some of our officers are feeling right now.

You may have run across officers who seem stand-offish or don’t readily engage in conversation. This is because they must constantly be alert. Most of them really are wonderful, friendly people, but they are trained to focus on safety first. Nonetheless, most also would readily lay their life on the line to protect yours.

The next time you see a police officer, from Kansas City or Lakewood, Wash., or anywhere else, please thank him or her for the life-risking sacrifices they take every day.

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