Thursday, August 11, 2011

Officer Down

It always bothers me to hear about the death of a police officer in the line of duty.  I imagine it bothers anyone.  And it happened again tonight, not far from here.  It's really distressing me, partly because it's a local officer and partly because the gentleman in question, a father with two young children, was younger than me.  Anybody younger than me is definitely too young.

I found myself feeling like there was something I ought to be doing.  When in doubt, I tend to poke Google.  Google brought me to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website dedicated to remembering those who fall in the line of duty.  They've already got our local officer in their ranks; he's the most recent addition.

This is a very solemn, meaningful website.  They want to remember every single fallen officer in the United States.  You can search for those who fell this year, or those killed on this day in history.  There's also a separate site for fallen Canadian officers.  It's not limited solely to police officers; there are night watchmen and security guards in there too.  It's about remembering every member of law enforcement who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It's not just about remembrance, either, although that's a big part.  They also provide information about survivors' benefits, a memorial grant program, and the correct protocol for having a mourning band at an officer's funeral.  Want to support their efforts?  Every purchase from their store will do exactly that.

You can also help in another way, and I throw this out there because I know there are a lot of people who collect police memorabilia.  Whenever an officer is memorialized on the ODMP site, the maintainers try to post a picture of his or her department's patch alongside the memorial.  It's an additional gesture of respect, and an acknowledgment of the department's loss.  But they can't do this because they don't have access to all the patches they need.

So if you collect police patches, here's how you can help.  First, take a look at the list of patches they need to see if you have any of them.  If you do, scan it on a flatbed scanner (digital photos will not suffice) at a minimum of 300 dpi.  Don't edit or crop the image in any way; they want the original scan.  The address to which you should email it, and other important details, can all be found in this blog post.  If you can help them out, they'll send you a free patch for your collection.

Years ago, Dear Abby printed a poem that I've never quite forgotten, although I've also never entirely remembered it.  Tonight I went looking for it in its entirety.  It was written by Harry Koch, a retired sheriff from Maricopa, Arizona, and is entitled "A Part of America Died."

Somebody killed a policeman today, and a part of America died.
A piece of our country he swore to protect will be buried with him at his side.
The suspect who shot him will stand up in court, with counsel demanding his rights,
While a young widowed mother must work for her kids, and spend alone many long nights.
The beat that he walked was a battlefield too, just as if he’d gone off to war.
Though the flag of our nation won’t fly at half mast, to his name they will add a gold star.
Yes, somebody killed a policeman today, it happened in your town or mine.
While we slept in comfort behind our locked doors, a cop put his life on the line.
Now his ghost walks a beat on a dark city street, and he stands at each new rookie’s side.
He answered the call, and gave us his all, and a part of America died.

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