Sunday, December 21, 2014
Officer Down – Hits Close to Home
On Sundays we typically drop Skruffy off at Marcia’s brother’s house, and then take her brother Mike to church with us. When he gets into the car today he tells us the sad news that a Tarpon Springs Police Officer was shot and killed early Sunday morning. Mike was a police officer in Tarpon for 15 years or so back when he was younger. Although he did not know Officer Kondek, it still hits close to home. One reason he decided to change careers was due to circumstances just like last night…..solo officer pulling an all-night shift. That is a dangerous situation, yet one many smaller towns face each and every night.
A memorial was set up in front of the police station. Flowers were being dropped off at this police car, which is wrapped with a black band. One of the local TV stations had a live feed of the memorial for awhile, where I grabbed the shot on the left. On the right is a memorial for the fallen officers….four of them, soon to be five. In 1993 an officer lost his life in a car wreck. In 1926, 1921 and 1893 the police force lost an officer due to gunfire. The police website provides details of each death, and the most interesting one is the 1893 shooting of the town Marshall, which involved a feud much like the Hatfields and McCoys.
About a month ago I had asked Mike, and another ex-policeman at church named Bob, if there was a website which kept track of all the fallen officers. “Yes there was,” I was told, and when I got home I found it. “The Officer Down Memorial Page” is offered by ODMP, Inc, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America's fallen law enforcement heroes. This year there have been, as of today, 113 officers killed in the line of duty, 46 by direct gunfire, 12 through assaults, 38 through accidents, 15 by heart attacks, and 2 “others” which probably also could be considered accidents too. It also lists another 20 K-9 in the line of duty deaths too. Death by gunfire is up nearly 60% this year over last year. Not good, not good at all. Sometimes it hits us more when it is close to home….
…it hit me back in late October with the deaths of Deputy Danny Oliver and Sheriff’s Investigator Michael Davis in Northern California…not very many miles from where we spent the summer, and not many mile away from where I use to live many years ago. Today, again, it hits close to home. Wish we never had to face this type of stuff again….but that is just a fantasy world, unfortunately.