I’ve come to know a pretty good number of cops because of work.
It’s not something you think about when you’ve been pulled over and the guy is walking up to your car window, but the ones I know? They’re just regular people.
And they’ve chosen to work an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous job.
On Saturday morning, while watching the coverage of the standoff in Stanton Heights, it occurred to me that I should take a look out the front window. The city cop who lives across the street has been one of our favorite neighbors, and I wanted to see whether his truck was outside, an indication that he was home — and not involved with the standoff.
His truck wasn’t there.
We had a very busy day on Saturday, and I kept looking for his pickup each time we returned home. We didn’t see it until early Sunday morning, when we returned for good. A small bit of relief.
I saw him on Tuesday, when he arrived home after taking his German Shepherd for a romp in Riverview Park. We talked just for a couple minutes; he said he wasn’t working Saturday morning, but he knew Eric Kelly, the off-duty officer who drove to help with the standoff because he lived nearby.
He had seen the story in that day’s P-G, the one that said dispatchers failed to warn the responding officers about the potential that there were weapons in the house. He said that didn’t matter: “The guy started firing as soon as they opened the door. They didn’t have a chance.”
He was sad about the loss of the guy he knew and the other two cops who died with him. But he was also matter-of-fact about what happened, and the knowledge that it could happen at any time.
The cops I know say it could happen on a random traffic stop. It could happen while they investigate a triggered security system. It could happen on a domestic call.
It could happen any time. They know it. They go to work anyway.
When my neighbor and I were done chatting, I told him we were thinking about him on Saturday morning, and we would be thinking about him this week. He shook my hand and said he appreciated it. I walked back across the street and he took his happy, barking dog inside.
He had to get ready for work.
There are a lot of law enforcement personnel in my husband’s family, and you are exactly right. They don’t even think about it. Tell your neighbor “thank you” for me.
Thanks once again for making the news so personal.
Went to the memorial service today. Hadn’t planned on it, but two things changed my mind: hearing the final role call for the officers and watching hundreds of squad cars – lights and sirens blazing – heading toward their North Shore rendezvous point.
While working on that story at the viewing overnight, I ran into a few police officers I’ve come to know through work. The one, honestly all I could do was look at him, shake his hand and I can’t remember who started crying first.