What Officer Patrick's death means to cops everywhere

Police officers stand steadfast in the sometimes narrow gap between civilized and uncivilized society


Right now in Minnesota, law enforcement professionals — and untold countless citizens — are preparing to honor fallen Mendota Heights (Minn.) Police Officer Scott Patrick

Officer Patrick was killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop. During the stop a gunman leapt from the stopped vehicle and opened fire on Officer Patrick. By all accounts the assailant who murdered Officer Patrick is a career criminal.

Today we pause and reflect. We remember Officer Patrick. We also contemplate all the other LEOs who have been killed in the line of duty. And we’re reminded of the nobility of the law enforcement profession.

A Position of Honor in the Community
How do we as a profession respond to such acts of violence and chaos? Simple: we press on. As we prepare for another day in the world, we maintain a professional attitude. As we go out on patrol, dig into that ongoing investigation, or whatever else our tour brings us today, we honor ourselves and those that we’ve lost in the line of duty. 

Even when the mainstream media focuses its coverage of our profession only on the negative, we know that law enforcement is a vocation, a calling, a service, and a position of honor in the community. 

I attended a training a few years ago taught by my friend Alex Graves — a police officer, trainer, and Native American. In his training he mentions the dog soldiers of the Cheyenne. The dog soldiers were considered the last line of defense against invaders. They fought fiercely to protect their people. 

Law enforcement officers are the dog soldiers in our communities. Officers protect the innocent against the invaders — those who wish to do harm to you, me, and everyone else. They do their duty without hesitation. They run toward danger while others flee or hide.

An Oath to Protect and Serve
When law enforcement officers are sworn in, they take an oath. Not too many other professions take an oath — maybe five, probably less. 

While each agency may have minute differences or nuances in its version of the oath, all essentially equate to “protect and serve.” 

Anyone who has honorably served as a law enforcement officer — sworn in on that first day with that oath — takes a stand against evil. 

Law enforcement officers stand steadfast in the sometimes narrow gap between civilized and uncivilized society. We need to remember those who protect us. We must honor them. More importantly, we must tell their stories of humanity, compassion, bravery, and courage.

Those who have been killed in the line of duty — like Officer Patrick here in Minnesota —live on in these stories. These stories are shared around the water cooler, over a beer, during our training, and in a briefing. We must remember why we were called to this profession — we were called to protect and serve.

Law enforcement is a noble profession. Take a moment to appreciate that you are an exceptional individual who is willing to do difficult things that others would not — could not. 

Stand proud, stand honorably, and stand with conviction. 

I trust you implicitly. I honor you immensely. And I thank you. 

To Officer Patrick: Thanks for your service. Although I never met you, I will always remember you. Rest in peace. 

About the author

Dr. Matt Stiehm has received an Educational Doctorate from Argosy University, where the focus of his research was campus safety and security. He has served as a police officer in three states (CA, MN and NE), he keeps current on law enforcement trends.  He currently is a member of ILEETA, MN Infragard, FBI LEEDS, an Associate Member of the IACP, Support Member of the MN Chiefs Association, the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association, and recently Police Executive Research Forum Subscribing Member. He is currently conducting some independent research projects into police use of force, campus public safety use of force, and general leadership trends.

Contact Matt Stiehm

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