Police Memorial Week. The title itself invokes an emotional response based on the word memorial. A fellow officer who lay down his life for people he may not even know. For a worthy, just and righteous cause. A brother in blue who could have been any of us. A sister in blue who gave it all. So sad to think of. Yet, this week is important for all of us to stop and remember even if it hurts. Those names engraved on the wall in Washington D.C. deserve that.
I try and read a story about a fellow officer who died in the past year for every day of Memorial Week. In particular today I came across the link I have here. It was a story from what looks to be 2008 about how many female officers died in the line of duty. 2008 was the highest year between 08-14. 15 female officers killed. The average has historically been well below that for women LEOs. But in 2008 the average took a big jump and then plunged to 3 in 2009. Thank God. What a horrible thing to have the better number in than men. But there are fewer of us on the job. And at average 10 percent of officers killed each year are women.
When I see a woman LEO who has died in the line of duty, I am forced to think of the struggle she may have had to even GET this job.. to fit in.. to be a part of this brotherhood. She may have had to prove herself over and over to gain respect. And to what end?
Well, with that I tell you that although none of us ever wants to die in the line of duty – there is no great honor than to do it for a noble cause. We all take this path into police work knowing that no matter where you work, no matter how large or small your department is – no matter how bad the neighborhoods are or how affluent – you run the risk.
You run the risk of not coming home. Ever. Again. I think of that when I read the memorial pages. I think they may not have remembered to tell someone this morning they loved them and never left their house thinking it was their last day. Man or woman – you do not think it could be you. But it could.
I made sure to stop today and thank God for another day. I thanked him for the sacrifice the officers who died in the line of duty gave. I thanked him that he allowed me to go home safe to my daughter and dogs.
And then I reminded myself that at 15 plus years on the job, I need to be ever watchful. Stop and remember that NO CALL IS ROUTINE. Without being paranoid, we all have to assume the worst until we know it is not. On EVERY CALL. On EVERY STOP. Assume the worst until we know it is not. Please. I don’t want the average to jump again next year and more names added to the wall. I want to go home everyday. I want you to go home everyday. Male or Female – we have to remember to have each other’s backs. And to remember those who have had ours.