Posted in Dispatcher Life

Officer Down

Two officers were shot this week. One of them, a young officer not even out of his field training, died.

This hit hard because the whole point of my job is to help keep people safe. That was his job, too. He worked for the same police agency that hired me a few months ago. I didn’t know him, of course. Aside from the chief, background investigator, and communications director, I didn’t really know anyone at the department. I still couldn’t help feeling that loss more keenly than before I started working at my PSAP.

A few weeks ago, I watched dash cam footage of officers being killed. It horrified me, hearing the screams, seeing how fast it all happened. According to the FBI, 89 police officers were killed in 2019–48 of them feloniously. My trainers have stressed officer safety over and over and over. I vowed to never make the mistake that would get someone killed and that’s the point of watching those videos—to impress upon trainees how serious this work is.

Public safety is a small community. My PSAP has taken over dispatching for that department for the rest of the week as they grieve and try to process this tragedy. I sent emails to the people I knew at the department, offering my condolences, and some other colleagues were putting together gift baskets for them. Save for my time in Iraq, I’ve never felt a kinship like I do right now.

That officer was doing his job. His killer had already hurt someone else. The officer and his partner were both shot while trying to help protect their community. One lived. One died.

The police caught the shooter after a few hours of searching. He’ll likely be punished by the courts, but the fact remains that one officer’s life is over and the multitude of lives connected to his are irrevocably shattered.


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