When asked to reflect on my thoughts about National Police Week, I can’t help but think of brotherhood. I grew up in Oklahoma and one of the families that I used to babysit for is like my second family. The father, Ron, is an Oklahoma City police officer and his daughter Kelly followed in his footsteps. Kelly married another Oklahoma City police officer – keeping law enforcement as the family business.
I have never experienced such a strong bond among individuals as I did in October 2005 when Kelly’s husband Jonathan was killed in the line of duty during a high speed chase.
I lived in Minnesota at the time and had to figure out how to get to Oklahoma for the funeral. I was going to be staying with Kelly’s mom, which is also where Kelly and her 5-month-old son were staying. To make sure that Kelly didn’t have to deal with any additional concerns or issues with those closest to her, the police department provided police escorts from the airport.
The most economical way for me to get to Oklahoma City meant that I had to fly to Dallas and rent a car to drive to Oklahoma City. On my drive up there, I received a police escort from the state line to Kelly’s house. There were police officers at the house around the clock from the time Jonathan died until after his funeral. If Kelly or her family needed anything, someone was there to provide it for them.
At Jonathan’s funeral it was even more evident the size and breadth of this brotherhood. There were hundreds of individuals in attendance. Law enforcement from dozens of states came to the funeral to show their support for Kelly and Jonathan. As we drove to the graveyard from the church, the line of law enforcement cars and motorcycles was miles long. At the graveyard, it was a sea of blue and brown uniforms as far as you could see.
One of the most emotional moments for me was watching officers walk by Jonathan’s grave, and then listening while the Oklahoma City Police Department did a Last Radio Call for Jonathan.
A few years later I was able to again see the extent of this brotherhood when I was in Washington, D.C. and I visited the National Law Enforcement Memorial. To see the number of individuals who have lost their lives in the line of duty protecting and serving us was amazing. It was even more inspiring for me since I personally knew one of those individuals and was able to find his name among the 15,000-plus names on the wall.