Guest commentary: Remember those that stand watch

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” I heard the 2-year-old boy gleefully cry out as he saw his father’s picture prominently displayed in the front of the church. You see, young Ethan hadn’t seen his father in almost a week and now he was excited to see such a grand picture of him in his uniform. The previous Friday, his father, Officer James Davies lost his life in the line of duty with the Lakewood Police Department and now, thousands of Davies’ fellow officers from around the state gathered to show their respect and to support the young family that he left behind. In the church, filled with these hardened officers, there wasn’t a dry eye as we heard the excitement in young Ethan’s voice upon seeing his daddy’s picture. Silently, we were all grateful that wasn’t our child left behind.

By Justin Smith
Larimer County Sheriff

In my 25 years in law enforcement, I’ve been to more of these services than I even care to count. The first half dozen or so are seared into my memory. However, the more that I’ve gone to, the more the tragedies start to blend together. I have a habit of tucking the funeral program into the inside band of my uniform hat. In my basement is a box containing dozens of those programs. The stack reads like an honor roll of community heroes who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice. Each left a personal tragedy behind: someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father or mother never made it home to see their family again, because they fulfilled the pledge to protect their community, no matter the cost.

Often, they died protecting someone they didn’t know, someone they had never met. A significant number were murdered for no apparent reason at all, other than they wore the uniform of their community and stood as a symbol of protection against evil.

I ask that you not take for granted, and that you not forget these dedicated community protectors who serve bravely every hour of every day. These peace officers dutifully answer every call, not knowing which one may be their last.

This year in Colorado, we have already buried six peace officers, six heroes, who died in the line of duty. Remember as you celebrate the holidays with your family, that these brave and honorable officers work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to stand watch over their community. I would ask you to thank them for their service when you get a chance. It means the world to them and their families to know that they are appreciated by their community.

Let’s hope that we can get through the remainder of 2012 without any more officers’ children left with only a picture of their mother or father to cling to.

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