Police Officer of the Year: Sometimes, heroes have to shoot

The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Law and Order could rip this incident from the headlines for one of its TV shows and give the starring role to the actual hero.

Even if he doesn't make it to Hollywood, Philadelphia Officer Robert Wuller is getting the real-life recognition he deserves for the bravery he showed on duty in April.

Wuller will be honored Tuesday as the nation's police officer of the year at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Boston. A story about him will appear in Sunday's Parade magazine.

His is a compelling tale.

At 2:45 a.m. on a Friday in April, Wuller went to a Northeast Philadelphia apartment after getting a report of a woman screaming.

Wuller kicked in the door to see a man wearing a mask, one of three would-be robbers. The trio had tied up the apartment's occupants: Andre Jenkins, his girlfriend, and her two young children.

Before Wuller got there, the men had stabbed Jenkins numerous times with a butcher knife, in front of the girlfriend and children, to get him to disclose where they could find money.

These creeps did not meekly surrender their weapons when Wuller burst through the door. One pointed a gun at him; another tried to stab him. Wuller shot and killed the attackers.

Police officers know there are times when shooting is not only justified, but necessary. Cops don't like to take life, but it's a daily possibility that became chilling reality in an instant that April morning.

Philly police often get publicity they'd rather not get, for things that go wrong on the job. They deserve headlines just as big when they do their jobs well.

Officer Wuller did his job well. He deserves this top-cop honor and our thanks for risking his own life to save others.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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