For about seven years, I had the honor and privilege to serve as a part of the California LEOKA (Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted) Council. As a part of this council, I assisted in the review of dozens of cases where an officer had been feloniously murdered or accidentally killed in the line of duty. Although the mission of the council is a noble one, as members, we always hoped and prayed against the odds that one day there would not be a need for the council.
In California, the Peace Officer Memorial Service is observed in the first week of May each year. Thousands of officers come to Sacramento to participate in honoring our fallen brothers and sisters. The ceremony is quite impressive in size and in detail. The LEOKA Council is allowed to sit in the bleachers within the main area of the ceremony with a clear and unobstructed view of the proceedings. The ceremony is an emotional rollercoaster. Feelings of joy and pride to know that we are in such a noble profession to honor our fallen in this way mix with the sorrow and pain that we all feel for the loss of our partners and for their surviving family.
It was emotional to watch the surviving family members as they would approach the memorial and place flowers upon it while saying goodbye to their loved one. As a father of two young children myself, I will tell you that the most gut-wrenching part of the day was watching the children of the fallen officers as they walked to the memorial. Some teenagers and younger children walked bravely as they openly wept, others were too young to truly realize what was happening.
In either case, these young children have lost a parent and that is tragic on many levels. These children will not receive the parental guidance that is so important. Our fallen brother or sister will not be able to grow old while watching their precious child grow into adulthood.
I truly hope and pray that all law enforcement officers remain safe and free from harm.
I speak directly to those of us who are parents: Stay safe, not only for you, but for your children.