My Tribe

This is going to be a little schmaltzy. Can’t help it.

Together with about 400 police officers, I’m attending a seminar put on by the Concerns of Police Survivors, an organization begun and operated by the widows, parents and adult children of fallen officers. (Bless them, they’ve been keeping me glued together ever since my first husband died in 1996!) They provide many services to survivors, and excellent training for law enforcement officers in law enforcement wellness and trauma.

As the flags are borne in by the color guard , times being what they are, I can’t help but notice that, unlike so many of my usual liberal haunts (my denomination, to name just one), the hands placed devoutly over all those hearts are of as many possible human skin tones as the most enthusiastic multiculturalist SJW could possibly desire. Speaking in every American accent you can imagine (and a few I couldn’t place) we are saying the the pledge in unison…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Officer Jason Collins of the St. Louis police department, the first three-time winner of their Medal of Valor (and a sweetheart!) is here.


So is Orange County (Florida) Deputy Curtis Barnes, who was shot in the right arm by a trio of car thieves in 2007, returned fire with his left hand and apprehended two of the three before back-up arrived. Barnes is the guy on the right in this picture—splendid man.

curtis barnes
curtis barnes
Also present; a lot of terrific, humane and funny veteran officers giving presentations on PTSR/PTSD, line of duty death, fatal force encounters and (times being what they are) how to cope with a negative social and political environment and intense scrutiny. (If you haven’t seen this video, of an anti-police activist going through shoot/don’t shoot scenarios it’s pretty good.)

On the plane home to Maine, I’ll read the scribbled notes in my notebook: “Try to make a positive difference in someone’s life on every call for service…” “Compassion is the DNA of our profession…” “Chaplains—you don’t push, you don’t pull, you don’t proselytize…””An estimated 15-18% of police officers have PTSD…” “suicide is the #1 killer of police officers…” “a Harvard Medical School study found that most police officers average only four hours of sleep per night…” police officers should be trained to minimize failures of kindness…”

This is my tribe: tall, short, straight, gay, teetotalers, drinkers, all religions including none, Democrats, Republicans and fierce Independents, sheriffs’ deputies, troopers, game wardens, chaplains, small town officers, big city officers

All of us watching the slides click past, image after image of the faces of the law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty thus far in 2015.

Liquori Tate.Police-Officer-Liquori-Tate-webPolice-Officer-Liquori-Tate-web

Miguel Perez-Rios. Policia-de-Puerto-Rico-agente-caido-Miguel-Perez-Rios-Foto-via-Policia-de-Puerto-Rico-2


Rosemary Vela.


Steven Martin Sandberg. Investigator-Steven-Sandberg-web

Aren’t they beautiful? There are 109 altogether… so far.

We’ll be seeing their wives, husbands, children, parents in Washington, DC in May, to welcome them into the club no one wants to belong to. For now, the faces click past and Topeka Kansas Officer Jayme Green gets up with a guitar slung across the breast of his dress uniform. He strums and sings the song he wrote for his own fallen comrades. It’s called Sacrifice and it’s a killer.

They’re the finest. That’s all. Just the finest.

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