The one thing cops need more than anything
If you’re reading this and you’re a fellow officer, let me remind you: The Silent Majority is there for us
As I type this, I'm sitting in a procession waiting to honor Officer Michael Katherman with the San Jose Police Department.
I'm joined by a few hundred of my fellow motors. In the truest sense of the word, it's an awesome sight. Bikes as far as I can see. Lights active. Civilians gathering.
This is the 24th police officer funeral I’ve attended in my career. The majority of which I’ve attended in my capacity as a motor officer. It’s part of my duties to attend funerals. To represent. To pay respect. It’s something a lot of my fellow law enforcement officers haven’t done either at all or not nearly as often.
Today’s is going to hit even closer to home because Mike Katherman was a fellow motor. He wasn’t doing anything I haven’t done countless times. As a matter of fact, I had a remarkable close call that resembled the very circumstances that took his life. It seems God wasn’t ready for me yet, but He saw fit to call Mike home.
The bottom line is this was a tragic accident. Mike wasn’t chasing someone down. He wasn’t riding unsafely. The driver that hit him wasn’t fleeing. He wasn’t under the influence. He just made a mistake. The ripple effects of the driver’s decision to make a quick left radiated outward and impacted more lives than ever intended.
[Full disclosure: I didn’t have time to finish this piece the day of Mike’s funeral. I am now typing this a week later in a hotel room in Sacramento.]
Every funeral has its highs and its lows. That may seem an odd thing to say, but in my experience, part of the makeup of a funeral is to celebrate a life well-lived. There are stories to be told, shit to be talked, and laughs to be had. Mike’s was no different.
The hardest part of it, though, was when Mike’s longtime friend read the letters Mike’s boys (8 and 10 year old) wrote to their dad. “Heart-breaking” doesn’t begin to describe the moment.
On the contrary, though, was when Mike’s dad spoke. You could tell the Katherman family is close-knit. Mike spoke of his son with pride and love. Sure, he was sad. He’s going to miss his son. But there was a glimmer of satisfaction in his eye that shone brightly when the first thing he said was, “First and foremost, Mike was a Christian.”
Speaking as a believer, I couldn’t help but feel relief.
The other experience of being to 24 cop funerals that helps to reaffirm my faith in humanity is what the community does along the procession route. I see droves of people holding signs saying, “We support the police” or “RIP Officer Katherman.” Others will be saluting, holding American flags, waving, or holding their hands over their hearts…almost like an extension of the pain we are feeling as we ride down the road. On every overpass, Fire stands atop the Big Red Truck in their Class A uniforms saluting and looking every bit as sharp as the cops.
These are the scenes that don’t get played out on a loop on the nightly news. If we’re lucky, the news will grab some quick footage and then move on.
The point to all that is simply this: Most cops don’t see that outpouring of support and affection that the community at large has for law enforcement because most cops don’t go to many cop funerals. It’s easy to forget that when all you see in the media is negative attention.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re a fellow officer, let me remind you: The Silent Majority is there for us.
If you’re a civilian reading this and you want to change an officer’s perception of society and have an impact on him/her beyond your ability to understand, there is one simple thing you can do that will have a profound effect.
Simply say, “Thank you.”
We don’t need pomp and circumstance.
We need to know you appreciate us.
We need to be reminded of the quality of people we are willing to give our lives for.