Why We are Not Mourned
On the other hand, why don't people
line the streets to say goodbye to emergency responders, is it not our brothers
and sisters who put there innocent lives on the line day in and day out? Sure we
work a dangerous profession. For many public safety families, to serve and
protect is a family tradition, like it was for my family.
And when one of our bravest die on the battlefield of emergency response do we
ever see much of the media other than a few paragraphs in the local newspaper?
When it comes to our funerals, the news media is seldom around. In all due
respect, look what it took to finally get national attention from the media, and
to capture sympathy from the general public; more than 400 brave public safety
members had to die on 9-11-01 in New York as they tried to save innocent lives
at the World Trade Center.
However, let one public safety member do something that is considered out of
line and like swarming bees on an open jar of honey, the media is at our
doorsteps with cameras rolling. They will usually do their best to showcase
officers that have fallen out of respect.
And that's okay as all public safety professionals have an unwavering obligation
to conduct themselves within the laws that govern this wonderful country we call
America. There are no exceptions. Tell me why we are looked down upon, we are
called to help the public; sometimes at the worst moments of a persons life. We
have to have hearts of steel, to make the right decisions regardless of the
consequences. The law prevents us from shooting first and asking questions
later. Often giving time for cold-blooded killers to blow us away.
It is us who search the streets for a murderer, child molester, a serial rapist,
and other deadly criminals. We know serving arrest warrants on fugitives or
disrupting violent family disputes can turn on us at any moment. We have many
dead officers to prove we can be ambushed at any moment.
A simple traffic stop can turn deadly when we least expect any problems. For
officers that travel alone on patrol at night, the likelihood of being in harm's
way increases. We never know whether a person has just robbed a bank or killed
On a felony stop we have to be extremely cautious or lose our life if we get
careless. It's a sub-conscious fear we must live with on patrol. And when
appropriate we call for backup, provided we are not the only police officer on
duty in our community. We cannot lose control on any incident; we are not
allowed to force a suspect to obtain a confession.
It is the police officer, which is required to put on a bulletproof vest before
a tour of duty. For the officer, it's a primary means to stop a bullet, to offer
some degree of protection.
But that does not mean we will not be injured or even die when a shooter aims at
our face or any other exposed body part not protected by the vest. It is us who
walks through a darkened entry, where the threat is very real as some deranged
predator may be waiting in hiding to gun us down. Like two days ago when Marion
Louisiana's, Police officer Hector Gomez, was shot and killed with a 9mm pistol
as he approached a vehicle in a ditch after a high-speed chase.
And all over a bogus check - three young men decided to flee and when cornered
decided to take an officers life.
Is there any sense to such madness or man caring so little about the life of
another human being?
A young 25 year-old police officer with less than a year on the Marion Police
Department, a U.S. Army vet who served his country proudly. Now leaves behind a
wife and unborn child.
He was the first officer lost in the History of Marion, Louisiana Police
Department. Will the media attend his funeral and will the community of Marion
turn out to offer their final respects? I sure hope so.
God bless all emergency responders around the world!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dee Dee Serpas is a retired police officer from
Kenner Police Department (Louisiana).
Currently, she is the President of the TAPS Memorial Web site.
Following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, Sheriff Paul Berthelot,
Sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish, and that of her father, who was
president of FOP Lodge 2 in the late 1950s, Dee Dee became a Police Officer.
First with the East Jefferson Levee Board Police, she also joined the Kenner
Police Department and was the only female to graduate from the academy that
year. Later, she joined the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office as a street cop.
This makes her the only known female in Louisiana to have held three commissions
at the age of 21. Her first book, Behind the Badge in the Atchafalya Swap
is due out soon.