Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God
Before Randy was killed, I was disconnected to the larger family of law enforcement. I could not have told you what National Police Week meant to me. I was also detached from the tragedies of law enforcement. In October 1999, I was pregnant with my son Robert and teaching high school English. It was a Wednesday—I even remember the red shirt I was wearing—and I was making copies in the teachers’ workroom at Canyon High School. The day before, one of the most horrific police shootings in Texas had occurred. A man lured police to his home in Pleasanton by making a frantic 9-1-1 call; then hiding in the scrub brush, he gunned down three officers as they arrived: Atascosa County Sheriff’s Deputies Mark Stephenson and Thomas Monse, and Texas DPS Trooper Terry Miller. When a co-worker asked me how I was coping with the tragedy, I did not have an answer; I did not know how it affected me. Trooper Miller was the 74th DPS Trooper killed in the line of duty; Randy was the 75th.
Less than a year after the Atascosa County ambush, I became a widow. I met Terry Miller’s widow Karen at an event in Galveston almost a year to the date of her husband’s murder. We were guests of honor at a conference, held at a beautiful resort. Over drinks and dinner, she and I talked about things that had occurred to us since our husbands died. I was now connected through tragedy to law enforcement and family survivors in a way I could have never imagined. Since Terry and Randy’s murders, almost 2,500 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty. Like most police survivors, I feel every one of these losses.
May is dedicated to honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty and their surviving families, friends, and co-workers. This year marks the 25th year of National Police Week anchored by May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Agencies began having events and memorial services as early as the last week in April this year. Whether or not a police survivor attends National Police Week events in Washington, DC, goes to a memorial service in their state or hometown, or chooses to mark the week privately, the week is a journey of duality: both grief and healing are experienced. I have learned over the years to appreciate and honor these sometimes conflicting emotions.
Since Randy’s death, I have had an internal drive pushing me towards a greater purpose. I recently left the profession I had known for decades to work for COPsync, the nation’s only law enforcement real-time, information sharing network created to protect the lives of police officers. I changed my life so that I could work for a company that is actively doing something to protect America’s law enforcement. As we begin the month of May, I ask you “What can you do to honor law enforcement?”