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.