Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Police Officer's Prayer

"Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall be called the children of God." Matthews 5:9

My heart is in my throat and I've been choking back tears for a couple of hours now. You won't hear on the news news yet.

Less than 6 hours ago, 2 Oakland PD officers met their fate during a routine traffic stop. Out gunned and without warning, a single man with an AK-47 took two lives in the instant of a trigger pull. And then he ran. Sensationalism sells and the scene of the motorcycles still lights flashing, surrounded by marked bullet casings, on the blood strained street keeps playing over and over. You can't see it until they zoom in, but at the back of the suspect's car, there they are. A motor officer's boots standing side by side, gun resting across the toes right where he made his last stop. It's a haunting image.

Cop-killers don't run without a chase. Not here. Four hours later, the SWAT team entered a building in search of the suspect and during the ensuing battle, had two more members fall before the suspect was shot down. One was lost, and one is in the fight of his life.

We, as a department, have never lost an officer on duty. Pray that we never do. Officers in general, by accident, by fire, by illness, have been pulled from our prescence far too often as of late. Funerals are happening far too often. Wives and children are loosing their husbands and fathers with a regularity that we should never have to see. This is the part of this job that never feels like it's worth it.

My brother applied with Oakland PD last year. He didn't pass their process probably because of all the prayers that he wouldn't. I spoke well to his background investigator and sold him as the ideal candidate, but I crossed my fingers because I refuse to sacrafice my baby brother to the evil that envelops some of the nearby cities. I can't do it. He's still testing and interviewing and now so is my cousin. I have always been the only law enforcement career-oriented one in my family but I have managed to be safe behind the radio. Days like today make me want to encourage work in construction and business.

If you work in law enforcment or are close to someone who does, you might know what it means to bleed blue. There are easily 30 towns and cites between us and Oakland, but there is always someone who knows someone, went to the academy with someone - somehow there's always a connection. No matter what the color of uniform or what the shoulder patches read, we all feel the loss.

I feel this loss. I can't shake it. Maybe because it's so epic. Four. Four officers lost in a matter of hours. And with only one shooter. Traffic stops are always dangerous. I've known that since I was a kid. I was always told that on every ride along, on every stop. I've only been on one tactical call with the SWAT team, but I was there committed. I wrote the roster out, I made sure I had all their names and I double checked that I didn't miss anyone. As many as went out, came back. That's the rule. You all come back now. Watching the news, the team suited up all in black, in their armored rig, it could have just as easily been our guys rolling down the street. They show the moments just before entry, the flashbang, and the screen door close behind the last member. What happens next is sure to be a haunting memory for all those who rolled out moments later. Just like that. We work in an ever-changing environment that teeters on life or death constantly. God grant the peacekeepers peace.

I've been to two cop funerals. That's two too many. I know how to pay my respects and I go when it is appropriate, but the most draining, sobering experiences of my young career, have invovled full-dress class A's surrounded by the hush of hundreds standing side by side, heads hung low, listening to the stories and memories of an officer, partner, husband, father, and son lost. I've seen the most veteran, rough and tumble, SWAT team members reduced to one knee in the aisle of the church, steps from the casket, unable to get up without assistance. It's a loss you can physically feel. I dread cop funerals.

How do you reconcile loosing so much life taken so deliberatley? You can't. When you suit up and go into service, it's with the expectation that you'll come home at the end of the shift. Protect and serve only covers so much.

May God be with the Oakland Police Department, the families of the officers, and all that are effected by this tragedy.

Police Officer's Prayer
God bless my family when I am away,
Leave the lights on I'll return from harms way,

Grant me courage and strength to protect others each day,
So they live in peace without worry, fear or dismay,

Bless those who have fallen given their life for another
May their spirit live on from then and forever,

Return me home to my family at the end of each night,
May I pass through the door before the morning's first light,

Shall I give my life for another before the dawn breaks today,
God bless my family when I am away.


D. Adams


  1. Lo, I was so devastated to see this on the news on Saturday, so devastated. I'm too sad to really put into words how this has affected me. I have a love hate relationship with Oakland... I used to work near by where this tragic event occurred, and it frightened me everyday that I had to walk from my car to the building I worked in. I can't imagine the strength and bravery it takes for the men and women to police these streets each day... I am so sad for the families of these men.
    I read an article in the Chron where the family of the killer stated that he "is not a monster." These acts were and are reprehensible and could not be committed by any other thing but a monster.

  2. Well, I stopped and had a moment and a prayer for his family too. I would be devastated if it was a member of my family. He is a monster. Everyone has the freewill to make choices, and he chose to rape and murder people. As for the rest of the day's events, it's still numbing.

  3. i am so sorry. what a horrible and tragic thing to happen. there are no words. just none to make it better or explain it or make sense of it. none. my heart is with you.