To protect and serve

5-13Op_webThis week, tens of thousands of police officers from across the United States, and around the world, will gather in Washington, D.C., to honor their brothers and sisters in blue who made the ultimate sacrifice while wearing a badge. There will be vigils and ceremonies all week, but the culmination will come on Friday, May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day — so designated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy.

The focal point will be the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which bears the names of more than 20,000 men and women — federal, state, county and local officers — who have died in the line of duty since 1791, the year of the first such recorded death in the U.S.

This year, to that monument will be added 117 names: 117 American officers who died in 2014 enforcing the law, protecting and serving the public — you and me and those we love.

(Note, please, that according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, as of Saturday, May 9, there have been 44 line-of-duty deaths in the U.S. thus far this year.)

The other day, I received an email that I want to share. There was no attribution, no indication as to who the original author might be. I have scoured the net in an effort to find out his/her identity or where this first appeared, but to no avail.

Know, then, that what follows amounts to plagiarism. With my apologies. But I think it is a perfect tribute this year, considering . . .

If anyone knows who the author was, let me know, and I will give due credit. I have had to trim it a bit, but the bulk of the essay is here:

I WAS A POLICE OFFICER 

Today, I will not answer the radio call that your boyfriend has come home drunk and is beating you again.

Today, I will not answer the radio call that your 16-yearold daughter, who is very responsible, is four hours late coming home from school.

Today, I will not answer the radio call that your store has been robbed or your house has been burglarized.

Today, I will not stop a drunk driver from killing someone. I will not catch a rapist or a murderer or a car thief.

Today, I will not answer the radio call that a man has a gun or tried to abduct a child or that someone has been stabbed or has been in a terrible accident.

Today, I will not save your child that you locked in a car or the child you were too busy to watch who went outside and fell into the swimming pool, but that I revived.

No, today I will not do that.

Why?

Because:

Today, I was killed by a drunk driver while I was helping push a disabled car off the highway.

Today, I was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop to simply tell someone that they had a taillight out.

Today, I was killed in a traffic accident rushing to help a citizen.

Today, I was shot and killed serving a warrant on a known drug dealer. Today, I was killed by a man when I came by to do a welfare check because his family was too busy.

Today, I was killed trying to stop a bank robbery or a grocery store robbery.

Today I was killed doing my job.

A chaplain and an officer will go to a house and tell a mom and dad or a wife or husband or a child that their son or daughter or husband or wife or father or mother won’t be coming home today.

The flags at many police stations were flown at half-mast today but most people won’t know why. There will be a funeral and my fellow officers will come, a 21-gun salute will be given, and “Taps” and bagpipes will be played as I am laid to rest.

My name will be put on a plaque, on a wall, in a building, in a city somewhere.

A folded flag will be placed on a mantel or a bookcase in a home somewhere and a family will mourn.

There will be no cries for justice.

There will be no riots in the streets.

No citizens will scream that something must be done.

No windows will be smashed, no cars burned, no stones thrown, no names called.

Only someone crying themselves to sleep tonight will be a sign that I was cared about.

I was a police officer.

– Karen Zautyk 

Karen Zautyk | Observer Correspondent