In Memoriam

I’m writing this from Tucson where it’s raining today.  Our four-day drive brought us through California just ahead of that devastating storm.  The rain was either behind us or north of us as we traveled.  With a house that’s been left unoccupied for several months, there were a number of maintenance issues that had to be addressed as soon as we got here, but everything is now under control.

When we’re on the road, we stay in touch with what’s going on back home, and so we’re aware of the tragic death of Pierce County Deputy Daniel McCartney who was shot while responding to a home invasion call.  His three sons, ages 4, 6 and 9, will grow up without the presence and with only the smallest memories of their loving father.  Once again, a whole community grieves the loss of a local hero.  For many of us, his flag-draped coffin will be the only memory we have of a man who swore an oath to serve and protect and gave his life in doing just that.  Most likely, one of the next times we will see his name mentioned will be when it is added to the statewide Fallen Officer Memorial.

I write police procedurals.  The cops I know best are fictional ones.  Some of them have been part of my life for decades and for any number of books.  When they strap on their weapons and “bullet resistant” vests to go about their pretend duties, I always worry about them.  In Downfall one of my K-9 characters saved the day but then very nearly didn’t make it.

Years ago, in an effort to understand what it means to do the job in real life, I participated in a Bellevue Citizens Academy.  In the process, I was part of a “shoot/don’t shoot” scenario—and you may have read a Joanna Brady book entitled Shoot/Don’t Shoot that grew out of that experience.  Doing that exercise taught me far better than mere words the split-second reality in which cops are forced to make life and death decisions.

Yesterday was National Law Enforcement Day, and so I’m writing this today as a thank you to all the men and women in blue who kiss their families goodbye each day and then go off to work without knowing if they’ll ever be coming home again.

As for the family of Deputy McCartney?  You don’t know me, but you have my heartfelt condolences.

10 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. Thank you for your wonderful blog post. My dad was a police officer in the 40s when I was small. The worry you speak of drifts down to even a six-year-old child. Then he became an FBI agent and we worried somewhat less, but even that can be dicey. I attended both the FBI Citizens Academy and the Albuquerque Police Department Citizens Academy back in 2009. Both had “shoot/don’t shoot” exercises, and the split-second decision process is intimidating. Everyone who complains about law enforcement (including journalists) should attend one of these academies to experience first hand the pressure and intrinsic loneliness of the decision-making responsibility.

  2. I think those of us who do not have a family member in a police force don’t have any idea of the worry the ones at home have. I’m not sure, but I think going on a call for a domestic situation is the most dangerous thing a police officer does. So many people have guns now. But the policemen keep doing it. They deserve our respect and honor.

  3. Thank you so very much for bringing your experience to the forefront. As someone who wanted to become a police officer in the 60’s and was guided from doing so by parents who reminded me girls aren’t police officers. I can only imagine that split moment when life and death are in one’s hand.
    Our television seems to take a light approach to awareness of that moment. That in and of itself is a lamented oversight.
    I am a “neighbor” of Officer McCartney in Rainier (next to his home town Yelm)and I can tell you everyone in this area is particularly hard hit by this terrible event.
    I keep asking myself, when will this all end and then remind myself, “It won’t end and that’s why we have so many brave men and women in blue”. Thank you

  4. As others have said, Thank you for honoring Police Officers. It seems to me, they are getting a bad rap in the media, when what they need most is support from all of us. As always you hit the nail on the head. Thank you, and your winter in AZ

  5. Thank you for your sincerest tribute to Deputy Daniel McCartney and explaining how your own background and police procedural training have come full circle in your novels.

  6. That was beautiful thank you. My husband was federal law enforcement for 32 years. No he was not a street cop but he is a brother in blue. Your right its hard to see them go out the door each day. I think this is why I love your book you seem understand the mind set.
    Enjoy Az. We are thinking of relocating there California is getting to expensive although we love it here. .. have a great week…Jan

  7. I was very lucky to have both a brother and nephew (father and son) who both retired from law enforcement without ever firing a shot. The last few days leading up to retirement were the most nerve wracking as so many don’t make it through them.
    Welcome back to your temporary Tucson home.

  8. Life is busy, we are all hurrying hither and yon, but we must individually take a few moments of our time, just as you have done, and appreciate what our community is today because of the men and women who truly do “serve” others. Asked yourself this. When was the last time I “served” my community? Just saying…

  9. I live in a very small community – pop; 5,000 – and I personally know many of our police officers.
    When I see news coverage of police being killed or injured while on duty I think of all the men I know and have known for a long time.
    I’m also very comfortable knowing that if or when I need them they’ll be here, at my door, in a matter of moments.

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