The sound of gunfire is NOT all that unfamiliar in the part of Seattle where I live...frankly, I'm not sure it is unfamiliar in MOST areas of any city these days. But THIS particular gunfire was not that far away from my home...within minutes, maybe two, I heard the sounds of multiple sirens racing over the streets and saw the Seattle Police Department zipping up and down the road. There was a frantic quality to the response last night...not that SPD doesn't ALWAYS respond quickly to most calls. But this was no ordinary call of "shots fired".
Last night, a Seattle Police officer was gunned down while sitting in his cruiser less than 1/2 mile from my home. He was killed in the first volley of seven shots I heard. News reports say an unknown gunman simply pulled up along side the police cruiser and opened fire...there was no provocation and no warning. This officer was literally assasinated for no particular reason...other than he was wearing the familiar blue uniform and badge.
I don't personally know the murdered officer...news reports say he was a training officer and was in the middle of a training shift with a rookie only one month on the job. Of course, the news is ALSO reporting a variance in the number of shots fired. I KNOW the exact count...I listened to it, looked at my watch, and waited to hear the sounds of sirens in hopeful response. The sound seemed too far away for me to identify a location for a 911 operator.
The words, "senseless crime", seem like SUCH a completely strange combination of words when trying to make sense of this tragedy. After all, isn't ALL crime senseless? But to literally assasinate a police officer, or ANY human being for that matter, leaves me speechless...and very, very sad.
I work very closely with the Seattle Police force in my "govmet" job...time and time again, these officers have covered MY arse when dealing with a potentially violent mentally ill patient. They go in first, securing the way for ME to enter to do my job. They cover MY back...keeping me safe so that I might ALSO protect the public in the role I have...whether that be protecting a suicidal individual or someone who's mental illness causes them to want to harm others.
It was through my job I learned about the "black stripe" on an officer's badge...an SPD officer kindly told me what the piece of tape meant that he was wearing on his badge when I somewhat dumbly inquired, not knowing the depth of the significance. I was told whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty, the force dons their badges with a black stripe to signify the mourning of the fallen officer...it is their "memorial" of sorts to their commrade.
The killing of the SPD officer last night hits too close to home, not just on a geographical level, but a personal/emotional one as well. I am keenly reminded of the inherent dangers of working as a public servant myself. I am often tasked with making safety decisions in MY job whether or not to request a police escort into a situation or whether I feel "safe" entering with only my work partner and the sole weapon we carry...our brains. The majority of the time, we make the appropriate decision about our safety and the safety of the population we serve. But there is always a margin of possibility we might miscalculate our sense of safety and find ourselves in dangerous situations. These are the risks we take...every day. And EVERY DAY at the end of the day, I am quite thankful yet another has gone by without injury or harm to myself, my colleagues, or the population we serve.
And EVERY DAY, I am always thankful the men and women in blue of the Seattle Police Department are available to me if I need them...willing to "go in" first so that I might safely do my job. I don't have a *badge* to carry in my job...so today, I'm simply putting a black piece of tape across my heart and honoring these courageous officers...