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Police Week 2012: I am the fallen

I didn’t see it coming...

I didn’t see it coming. I mean, I’m experienced. I’m in good physical condition. I’m well trained, and I always use proper patrol tactics. I’d been out to this SOB’s house 50 times in the past for anything from loud noise to loose dogs, as well as a few family violence calls. Hell, he even knew me by my first name. But tonight he had called in drunk demanding a “cop” come to his house.

We bitched about having to respond again to this guy’s house as my buddy Tim approached the front door, I made my way around the side of the house toward the rear. That’s when I felt it, a quick, heavy thud to the back of my skull. And then everything went black.

“What the hell just happened?” I thought, “and where is Tim?” As I struggled to figure out where I was and what was going on I could here sirens getting closer. I HAVE TO find Tim, something isn’t right!

Everything was still a blur, but then I could here Tim, screaming in his radio to dispatch, “Officer Down! Officer Down!”

Shots rang out, and that’s when I finally saw my buddy, on the side of the house in the dark driveway. Tim was returning fire toward a side window in the house, rat-a-tat-tat, and it wasn’t that double-tap BS they teach you in the academy, Tim was emptying his magazine...

He’s firing, but he’s also lying on the ground shielding another officer who I didn’t even know had arrived on the scene... in the darkness I can’t make out who it is...

A few seconds later I finally find my voice. Now I’m screaming for Tim, but he doesn’t hear me. I can’t seem to get oriented and I am having trouble finding my weapon and my radio and I’m thinking I took a pretty hard blow to the head, although amazingly I’m not feeling any pain.

I’m seeing multiple units arrive on scene, sirens left on as my buddies are bailing out of their cars and kickin’ in the front door of the house. Tim is lifting himself up to his knees, and I can see now he is covered in the downed officer’s blood and he is screaming, “Don’t you quit on me now, damn it!”

Tim collapses onto his comrade and begins to sob.

Sonofabitch, what the hell is going on? Why is that officer’s shield number the same as mine? Now I’m screaming at Tim at the top of my lungs and he doesn’t seem to hear me. I make my way over to him and as I look down I see the fallen officer face, and I can’t speak.

You see, that fallen officer is me.

Into the darkness, I scream, “Noooooo!”

No one seems to hear me. “I have to go home later,” I think, “this just can’t be!”

Lots of uniforms and suits are all around me now as I see Tim being helped to his feet and led away.

That seems like just a few moments ago. It’s strange, but now I’m standing at a gravesite, watching the endless flow of police cruisers coming into the cemetery, lights on, so many, as far as I can see down the road, and there’s no where left to park. My friends, my colleagues, my family — all there.

I can see the flag draped casket, I can hear the 21-gun salute, and I begin to feel a tingling sensation in my limbs as a white light consumes me, I hear the chief begin to speak as I fade away forever...

“They sometimes gun us down... they try to stop the good that we do. By taking one of us, but no matter how hard they try, WE, as law enforcement officers are one, a united front against the evil that men do, that will go on forever.

We are a THIN, BLUE, LINE, and that line has no end.”

Rest in peace, my brothers and sisters who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the name of justice.

Lt. Hawkes is a 23-year police veteran. In addition to his years of highway drug interdiction, Lt. Hawkes has worked in patrol, K9, investigations, narcotics, and administration. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Dallas Baptist University and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Justice Leadership and Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas. He has been the recipient of both State and Local awards, including the Medal of Valor. His book, Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction, which can be purchased here, contains eleven chapters on Highway Drug Interdiction.