The Cancer We Face, And Why We Continue

More from the anonymous Sacramento Deputy who has written a few things here in the past.

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I’ve been a cop for 22 years this month.  I remember pretty vividly my academy days, and how I dreamt of one day being a cop.  I remember jail training very clearly, as I also remember the several years I spent working there.  I remember patrol training, and I remember my first day as a finalized, brand new patrol cop, September 11, 2001.

I remember the men and women I have worked with over the years.  I remember the feelings I have had toward them, the brotherhood, the family.  I even remember working with a few people that I did not like, in fact there were a couple at one point or another that I despised.  But if they called for help, no matter who they were, no matter if I liked them or not, without question, doubt or hesitation, I went, as did everyone else, because that is what we do.

I remember the very first funeral I attended for a fallen deputy from my department.  I remember listening to her teenage daughter talking about her mom, and how she was going to miss her.  I remember sitting there in that church, crying, in my dress uniform, wondering how the daughter managed to stay as composed as she was, while I sat there trying to hide the tears on my cheeks.

I remember every single “officer down” call I was ever on, even those from other local agencies.

I remember that gut wrenching feeling you get when you hear those dreaded words on the radio, “shots fired, officer down!”  I remember wondering why in the hell my car would not go any faster.

In fact, I blew up two different cars responding to officers who were shot.  Both cars suffered a crack in the intake manifold.  How in the hell do you crack an intake manifold?  I have no idea, but I’ve done it, twice.  One of those cops survived, the other did not, leaving behind his three children.

I remember sitting at home with my eldest son, who was barely 3 at the time, when I got a call from a close friend and coworker telling me that two of my coworkers were dead and another was in a coma.  I remember the helpless, useless feeling that day.  I remember sitting on the couch, hugging my son and crying while watching the news coverage.  I remember being angry at God for what happened, even though I know it was not his fault.

Over the next several years, I would lose more coworkers to both accidents and murders.  And each one took a chunk of me with them.

I again got to experience that same helpless, useless feeling four years ago as I listened to the radio from home as my coworkers hunted a man who had just murdered another coworker.  As I listened, the same scumbag murdered a deputy from a neighboring department while he fled from mine.  I listened, unable to do anything, wishing I could be there to help, needing to be there to help, but stuck.

Just barely three years after that, as I got into the car leaving lunch, I heard those dreaded words on the radio, “officers down, multiple officers with gunshot wounds.”  My partner and I drove to the scene and while I was of little actual help, being there with my family in blue, made that scene a little easier to handle, until I learned that the man most seriously wounded was a man I went to the academy with, and he had just died.

As a man, as a cop, I was always under the impression that I am not supposed to cry.  As a human, I am a big bowl of mush and have always been on the emotional side.  So now, I’m doing what I can to choke back the tears.  I need to stay busy, give me something to do.  The tears can wait until I get home, and they did, thankfully.

I can remember just about every service from every cop funeral I have been to.  And to this day, thinking about them makes me emotional.

They add up.  The grief doesn’t go away.  It is cumulative.  The hole continues to grow, like a malignant cancer.

Just when you think your soul is starting to mend, another cop gets killed.  The cancer comes out of remission and hits you full force.  The pain is so strong, it feels like not a day has gone by since the last one.

Here I am, barely one year since I buried my academy classmate, and I am polishing up my badge and leather gear, making sure my Class A uniform is clean and pressed, finding my hat that only gets worn for funerals, so I can go bury yet another coworker.

In the academy, they told us to always take care of number one, and you are number one.  They told us to exercise, eat right, and live healthy, that way we would make it through our career in good physical condition so we could enjoy the retirement we earned.  However, little was done to prepare us for the constant emotional drain, or the loss of your friend and coworker, your family member.  I mean, in reality, how do you prepare someone for that?  Especially when it happens with such frequency.

A friend of mine whom I’ve come to know only recently wrote this piece just before he retired one year ago.  In it, he talks about all the cops that were killed during his career.  It is sobering, and sad.  During his 29 year career, 4,122 cops died in the line of duty.

4,122!

That is too many.

I don’t know how I am going to make it through this funeral coming up, but I will.  We will.  I owe it to my blue family to be there, and not just for the fallen, but for all of those who must carry on.  We need each other to lean on, for support and strength, and for understanding.

It reminds me of a line from the movie Blackhawk Down.  “When I go home, people ask me, ‘Hey Hoot, why do you do it, man? Why? You some kind of war junkie?’  I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand it’s about the men next to you… and that’s it. That’s all it is.”

Society doesn’t understand cops.  Some fear us, some resent us, some hate us, and still there are some who love us, but none of them understands us.  Hell, for many of us, our own families don’t understand us.  The only people who truly understand cops, are cops.  We are here for each other, always.  We find strength in each other.  And we will once again find the strength to bury our fallen brother, knowing that as we bury him, we bury a little bit of ourselves.  After that, we will carry on, watching each other’s backs, supporting each other, understanding each other, being there for each other, because if we don’t, who will?

We also know that we will sometime in the future, hopefully not soon, but eventually, be burying yet another member of our blue family, and another.

A couple days ago, I was ready to throw in the towel and walk away.  I was hurt and angry.  A coworker of mine, a friend from my academy days, reached out to me, knowing I was hurting, and sent me something that really hit home.  With his permission, I am going to share his words here, and end this post with his words to me.  For those others who might be wavering like I was, this may help.

“I wanted to say something encouraging, but words are failing right now. The constant drum beat of our fallen brothers and sisters is echoing in my heart tonight and it HURTS!

Like you, I’ve shed tears for a kid I didn’t know, but we do know him, don’t we, even if we’ve never met because we are him, just further along the trail.

I cling to the belief that what we do is a noble calling, that we truly stand between that animal and citizens who are just trying to live their lives. That, along with my faith in Christ, is what sustains me.

I got home today and hugged my wife, and knowing that there is a family tonight which is shattered…and I cried for them, I cried for those in our blue family who knew Mark and are broken, I cried selfish tears because, I too am exhausted by the toll the last 22 years have taken.

And tomorrow I will strap on my gun and badge, I will do my duty and be thankful that I serve alongside heroes known and unknown. Be well, my friend. We are in this together, and we will survive and do everything we can as we train our fellow officers so that this never happens again…yet knowing it will.

We shoulder that burden because it is WORTH IT, even on days like today when the load is oh so heavy.”

Yet Another Murdered Coworker – I Think I’m Done

The following was written by the same Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy who wrote the post about Bob French’s murder.


Why in the hell is my cell phone blowing up with text messages?

Shit, this many texts in this short a time, this can’t be good…

FUCK!!!!  Gawd dammit, not again!!!!  How in the hell is this possible?

Another coworker murdered while doing his job!

Just 18 days ago was the one year anniversary of Bob’s murder, and now, again, here I sit listening to the radio traffic from the scene of the murder of yet another coworker, while wearing a memorial T-shirt commemorating the loss of two other coworkers.

I sit here feeling helpless, useless, hopeless, occupied by my own depressing thoughts and memories, of the losses of so many other coworkers.  Some I knew well, others I knew not at all.

Oh, how I long to be at the scene, to be involved in making this thing right in some small way.  Because if I was there, busy, doing something, anything, I would not be sitting here, thinking about, remembering all the other times I have felt this indescribable, inexplicable feeling of loss.

This time, I did not even know the man.  Despite that, despite not knowing him, he was my brother.  He wore the same uniform as me, the same badge, swore the same oath to protect the same city as me.

I have since learned from coworkers who knew Mark Stasyuk that he was well liked, a hard worker, young, early in his career, new to patrol, and very sadly, just recently married.  This is ripping my freaking heart out!

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Most people who are not in this line of work would assume that not knowing the man would make this easier.  They would be wrong.  Honestly, it makes very little difference.

Knowing the officer killed is only a small part of the loss we feel.  I cannot help but think about his partner and what she is going through right now.  Even though they were both shot, she performed CPR on her mortally wounded partner.  His poor family, who still does not even know, will soon receive the most devastating news a young wife could ever imagine receiving.

So here I sit, at home, listening to the radio, with a big drink, unsuccessfully trying to take the edge off, thinking about all of the other coworkers I have buried during my career.  Cops I know from other agencies, some from other states even, doing what we all do when something like this happens, offering sincere condolences and offers to help in whatever manner they can.  But in reality, there is nothing they can do.  They can’t turn back time, they can’t bring the officer back, and as the days pass, most of us will process this loss in our own ways and we will be okay.

My biggest worry is his partner.  I know her only slightly.  She struck me as a very squared away young cop, the type who is going to second guess the holy hell out of herself.  Nothing we can say will stop her from doing that, and none of the hypothetical scenarios she will run through in her head will change what happened.

I read the call they responded to.  It is a call our agency goes to a dozen times a day.  It was a call I have handled by myself, solo, more than once.

But it wasn’t.  Because even though all the calls are similar, they are never exactly the same.  In this case, the bad guy had a gun and he chose to do bad guy shit, and he shot both of the cops who were sent to deal with his dumb ass.

Even though I read the call, I did not look at any of the suspect information.  I only know that the suspect was male, and that he is in custody.

I will however take a wild ass guess about some things we are likely to learn about the suspect.  He will have prior arrests, probably lots of them.  Many will be for less serious crimes, like trespassing or public intoxication, but then there will be others, crimes that used to be considered serious crimes, crimes that used to be felonies.  I suspect we will find weapons charges, possibly even gun charges, and likely there will be assault charges.  Probably even some convictions, even recent convictions.

His laundry list of charges (or those I suspect we will learn about), in any other SANE state would have had him currently residing in a government run, full service board and care home (prison).  But here in California, where our insane liberal lawmakers and most of the Democrat party say it is mean to punish convicts for their crimes, so we just release them, because that is the “humanitarian” thing to do…

So, you ask, why do I guess we might hear all that about the suspect?  Because that is what we always find out.  History tells me those things.  Hell, out of the last 15 cops shot and killed in California, that is the background of at least half of their murderers.

Add to that, current legislation that is being pushed by liberal politicians (Kevin McCarty and Shirley Weber) who want to make it even more difficult for cops to protect themselves in deadly force situations, because to them, cops are the bad guys.

The same liberal politicians who are responsible for the legislation that lead to Bob’s murder.

So here I sit, seriously considering walking in tomorrow and pulling the plug.

I’ve had it.

Fuck this state!

The people running this state value their elected positions, and the votes that keep them there, more than they do the citizens they represent or the cops who keep them all safe.

I’ve given this state enough of me.  I’ve given it my best, for a long time, and I nearly have given it my life, on more than one occasion.

During my career, ten of my coworkers have given their lives for this county.

Of those ten, six were murdered.

And that is JUST my agency, during my career.

Yes, I realize there are many, many folks out there who support us.  We see them after every single incident like this.  We see their thin blue line flags and stickers.  We know we have a lot of support.

But sadly, those who support us are outnumbered by those who vote for the politicians responsible for the legislation that is killing us.

I don’t know if I can continue doing this.

I’m sure I am not alone.

Rest in peace, Mark.

Thank you for your service.

Hopefully, for society’s sake, someone will have the watch from here.