Yesterday, our Facebook page was pretty quiet. That is because all of us admins who live in Northern California made the trip to Roseville, CA to attend the services for Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy Bob French. There were thousands of officers there from all across the country in attendance. NYPD, Chicago PD, Aurora (CO) PD, and so many other agencies, not to mention just about every agency from CA was represented. In addition to the cops, the number of Firefighters who showed to pay their respects was amazing. Topping off all those first responders, the outpouring from the general public was tremendous. On such a sad day, it served as an excellent reminder just how many folks, most of whom are part of the silent majority in this country, actually appreciate what we do.
As we sat in the huge church that was filled to capacity (standing room only) waiting for the service to begin, they ran a slide show to music showing pictures from Bob’s life, both at work and his private life. Moments before the service was to start, about 20 people from the Sacramento Police Department section jumped up and rapidly made their way to the exits. One of those people was their new chief, and the rest appeared to be other command staff and supervisors as there was a collection of bars, stars and stripes. As they left, nearly all were either reading something on their phones or were talking on them.
To those of us in this line of work, when something like that happens, it is a very bad sign.
People in the audience began talking amongst ourselves wondering what was going on, and just as the service started, we got word that two (2) Sacramento PD officers had just been involved in a shooting, and both were shot. One was reportedly shot in the chest, the other in the leg. Their condition was unknown at the time, but we did hear that the suspect was deceased.
Holy crap! This cannot be freaking happening!
Here we are trying to honor the life and service of a heroic cop who was shot and killed last week, and now we have two more members of our blue family shot? Their condition is unknown?
Talk about a flurry of emotions. What should have been a calm time to mourn the loss of a brother was now a mix of sadness, loss, anger, frustration, anxiety, restlessness, grief and hatred.
There is not much more weary a group than those mourning the murder of well-liked coworker, and those people cannot even get three hours to allow their souls to heal just a little before same thing has potentially occurred again.
Thankfully, shortly after the service began, word made its way around the room that the injuries received by both Sac PD cops were not life threatening. Thank GOD!
Now we could get back to healing.
The first law enforcement speaker to give a eulogy was Sheriff Scott Jones. In my opinion, his eulogy was absolutely amazing. He started by thanking all in attendance, and thanked the family for allowing us to honor their loved one. He continued by welcoming the various dignitaries who were present (thankfully, Governor Moonbeam smartly chose to be unavailable). Then, mere seconds after greeting the politicians who were present, he began talking about how angry he was, saying “I feel angry that his killer should never been out of prison,” very obviously referring to AB-109, which is the reason Deputy French is no longer with us.
Sheriff Jones’ eulogy seemed, at least to me, to be very honest and from the heart. He very clearly was feeling the same things many of us in that giant room were. His words spoke to me, they rang true, for like Sheriff Jones, I too was full of mixed emotions. I would encourage anyone who has not seen it to take a few minutes and watch.
The following piece was included in the program they handed out at Deputy French’s service. It is attributed to Lt. Al Benner, Ph.D. from the San Francisco Police Department.
“To function effectively in our job, you must annihilate, smother and suppress normal emotions like fear, anger, revulsion, and even compassion. To do otherwise it to invite overwhelming doubt or hesitancy when decisive action is required. The penalty for your achieved competence is a mindset that might as well be a foreign language to your social contemporaries. We are…..victims of our own success. When these same normal and appropriate emotions…..surface in personal relationships, we automatically shut down and wonder why, over time, that the people we care about the most complain that we are aloof, cold and uncommunicative.”
From all accounts given at the service by the people who knew him, Bob managed to walk a thin line between what is discussed in the excerpt above, yet still maintaining compassion. It takes a very strong human being to do that.
Law enforcement as a whole is weary, we are tired, we’re sad, and angry. Despite that, we will suit up and carry on, because that is what we do, that is who we are. We have to, because if we don’t, who will?