A Story: The Legend of Stonewall

“As promised (although somewhat delayed), here is the true story of how Dave and Mike became the stars of Stonewall for a night.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was flirting with me.  This was a rare occurrence, so when she invited me to her birthday party at the Stonewall Inn, I of course said yes.  Well, after Jessie and my boss told me to say yes.  The appointed date arrived and the 3 of us set out after work to join the festivities already in progress.  We walked through the door and as we started upstairs to the party, who should we see but the birthday girl. And her girlfriend. 

Obviously this night was not going to go the way I’d hoped.

But, we were already there and there was no way to make a graceful exit so soon.  In an effort to salvage the night, we racked our brains trying to think of who we could get to come out with us.  The rest of the platoon had undoubtedly gone home already, but almost immediately two names sprang to mind: Hofer and Sarro.  Regardless of the fact that it was after midnight, and they weren’t even working that day, there was no question in any of our minds that they would be together and they would come out with us.  Sure enough, when Jessie sent her text, it was met with a yes and a request for an address.

Shortly thereafter, Dave and Mike fought their way through the crowd and found us.  The first question they asked was: “So, what kind of place is this?”  Upon learning that it was a gay bar, they shrugged and ordered a drink. 

They then commenced to dance with each other and every girl around them. 

At one point, there was a girl standing behind Dave.  He and Mike would stroke her hair, and when she turned around, they would give her the best innocent look they could muster.  Finally, the girl’s girlfriend caught them.  I cringed inside, afraid that she was going to try to start a fight, but the boys turned on the charm and soon enough they were all best friends.  Unfortunately, someone who shall remain nameless spilled (deliberately poured) a drink on someone else, so she departed in haste, but the rest of us stayed until the wee hours, having a grand old time.  The next day, we were all the worse for wear but those of us who were there will still swear that it was one of the legendary nights out “when four-bys were fun.”

I wish I had a picture of that night with Dave and Mike in it, but I can’t find one.  Maybe it’s for the best that there’s no evidence of the shenanigans.”

~ Kerry, NYPD

A Thought: “Don’t fear us. Don’t hate us.”

The Facebook world is extremely emotionally draining to me right now. I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum and the anger, misunderstandings and generalizations are so glaring, so confusing, so overwhelming, that most of the time I just feel that this whole problem is hopeless. I’m stuck in the middle, able to see the various sides, but the gulf between the parties seems so vast. I’m confused that people only seem to recognize the pain on one side of the equation: Black pain or Blue pain. In my mind, it’s all just pain. And, instead of yelling at each other from opposite sides of the table, we should acknowledge when someone is hurting. I feel utterly helpless.

This helplessness has caused me to avoid commenting on a lot of controversial issues, not because I’m ignorant to them or because I’ve put them out of my mind, but because my thoughts are confused, my emotional capacity has been drained by the loss of my brother and best friend, and it simply feels like no reasonable dialogue can be had. At least not in my current state, and definitely not on social media.

But, once in a while, I see a message that I think captures something important – a message that seeks to clarify and reconcile differences, a message that emphasizes that we each can do better in our own little world, a message that ultimately desires unity. With his permission, I wanted to post one such messages by one Texas police officer.

Thank you for your words, officer. And thank you for keeping Dave in your heart as you go out in service of our communities.

“This is a little outside the norm here for me. You guys know this is usually an outlet for my sense of humor. But this was heavy on my mind today. In light of recent events, pretty much right at my own front door, I’m sitting here looking for the motivation to go to work, wondering why I do this. Then I’m very aware that 100s of thousand others across this land are going to work as well with the uncertainty of what’s waiting for us when we check in service. My thoughts are: we are peacekeepers; it’s time to work. However recently, we are hated targets.

Two young officers I respect have both reached out to this old man and asked, “what keeps you going?” One answer is “It’s what we chose to do.” The other one, most recently, pretty much answered her own question when she told me “We do it because that’s our job. We strap up because we are warriors.” She pretty much nailed it. That’s what we are for the peaceful.

I think we are the excuse used by the lawless for violence and now have to be, and need to be, the catalyst for change. We aren’t the killers many accuse us of being, but sometimes a life is taken, but NEVER because it’s a desire to do so.

There’s no way to describe what comes over you and takes place inside you when you point a gun at another human being. That’s something and someplace you never want to be. Well, we don’t either.

I think back over the last 30 years, why I chose this profession, or why it chose me. Simply put, catch the bad guys and help everyone else. It turns into a job of dealing with more bad guys than helping it seems like.

I think tonight, I’ll try to pick up where Dave left off. David Hofer, one of our young officers whose life was taken recently, was a good officer and a kind young man. Dave, I think, pretty much set the example or set the bar for kindness to everyone, good or bad. Tonight my goal, other than to go home at the end of the shift, is to see how many positive encounters I can have, to be like Dave!

My beat is largely minority with some that have been identified as a threat to police. I personally don’t see ethnicity. I don’t see color. I see behavior and deal with the behavior. I see what’s needed and what needs or has to be done. I think you’ll find almost all in my profession see that the same way, believe it or not.

Don’t fear us. Don’t hate us. Just know we are there, doing a job most would never want to do. So much hate in this world. Someone I don’t know yet, will want or need my help today, so I guess I’ll get ready to go to work now and see what’s waiting out there.

Pray for the Blue, say a few words of encouragement to the next cop you see.

Pray for peace, love one another!”

To the Families of Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa

Today, I’m tired. I’m tired because as I’m mourning my brother who was assassinated in the line of duty on March 1st in Euless, Texas, I have to think about you. I think about the moment you received a knock on the door from uniformed men and women with somber faces. I think about how you walk up to the door thinking that this isn’t good. But, believing at the same time that it can’t really be bad either, because you love your officer. It just can’t be that bad. And, then it is.

It is, in fact, the worst.

I think about the moment you receive a phone call or a visit from a panicked loved one and you hear the words uttered that: “He was shot. He’s gone.” And all you can think is: “No, it can’t be. It’s not him. It can’t be him. I love him. He can’t be gone. He’s a good person. He can’t be gone.”

But, he is.

But, he can’t be.

But, he is.

He is.

I think about how you will rush to the hospital, or make your way to the funeral home. You will see the rest of your family and those closest to you, and you will sit in silence, confused, because this is all wrong. Then, something odd will happen or someone will say something funny and you smile or laugh, because this is all so unreal. And, you will think how can I possibly laugh right now. My husband is dead. Or, my dad is dead. Or, my brother is dead.

In the next moment, you will look around and wonder why you’re there, in that moment, in that situation. And you’ll remember that:

“He was killed.”

And you’ll think that it can’t be. He was a good person. This only happens to “other people.”

But, it happened. And, you’re really at the funeral home, making decisions about caskets and flowers.

I think about how your family in Blue will take your hand, squeeze your shoulder, bring you a plate of food that you don’t want to touch. They will glance in your direction, feeling helpless that they can’t do anything to ease your pain, except perhaps, get you to drink a cup of water and eat a bite of anything at all. You will feel ill. Your stomach will hurt. Your chest will feel so heavy. You will feel like you can’t breathe.

As you sit there, making decisions on music and viewings, you will think:

“How can a person bear this much pain.”

“How am I still breathing? How am I still walking?”

Some moments you will think: “I wish the world would just open up and take me away.”

I think about how you will go to sleep at night, exhausted, and when you wake up, for just a moment things will be ok, and then the knowledge of what has happened will wash over you and you will experience the deepest, darkest sadness you will ever know. And this will happen morning after morning, at least for a little while.

I’m no expert at grieving, but I’m a few months ahead of where you are. There is nothing that anyone will say or do that will feel right, because right now everything is just wrong. People will try to comfort you, tell you there is a reason for everything, tell you that an angel went home or that something good will come from all this.

Know that they mean well, but they can’t possibly understand what it means to have someone you love torn from you in the most violent way possible.

After Dave was killed I received a letter from a father, who lost his own son too soon. He wrote: “Time does not heal the pain.  The pain you feel at the loss will never diminish but every day you will get stronger in how you deal and cope with that pain.” This was the most helpful thing anyone has said to me.

These words will bring you little comfort in these horrible days ahead, but know that we are thinking of you. We understand. We’re here. You will, somehow, make it.

You have to make it, because your man in blue needs you too.

~ Meret H., sister of David S. Hofer, EOW 3/1/2016

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A Story: The Open Door

“I do not know what to say to start with.  I do not have anything profound to say.  It still hurts.  Dave’s locker is still right across from mine, a St. Michael sticker permanently affixed to it, never to be opened again.  I have Dave’s name on my bracelet, the mourning band with your badge is still attached to my gear.  I am sorry.  As one of the senior guys that was on his shift, I am sorry Dave came to our little town for a better life only to be taken from us.  It has been hard sitting down and telling this story because only few days after this happened Dave would be gone. 

 Now that I have brought everyone down, I hope I can liven it up and they have a laugh at this, because I still do.  Just know some “colorful” language will be edited…

We had been having a rash of daytime apartment burglaries and I was patrolling one of the complexes on my end of town.  While patrolling I located a patio sliding glass door opened up about a foot.  Not sure what I had yet, I asked for an additional unit, and Dave was dispatched (it should be noted that he was already enroute to back me up when he heard me check out). 

Upon Dave’s arrival we went to have a closer look at the door.  This patio was probably about 12 feet long by about 4 foot wide with probably a 4 foot railing across it.  The ground surrounding it was standing water from recent heavy rains. 

 While we did not see any signs of burglary, we did see one of the biggest pit bulls in existence lounging on the chair looking at us with a “what are you idiots looking at” look on its face. 

Dave: “Bro, we gotta search it.”
Me:  “Uh no, you see the size of that dog.”
Dave:  “Policy bro, policy says we search.”
Me:  “You go first then tough guy, I’ll follow you.”
Dave:  “Bro, you’re all former SWAT and Army, and an FTO, I need to learn from you. You go first!”
Me:  “As the senior officer on scene I am making the call we not entering this apartment.”
Dave:  “Bro, policy says we search. I don’t want to get fired!”

It was clear that the apartment had not been burglarized.  We could see laptops and TVs inside, and nothing appeared thrown around.  Dave was also clearly using “bro” intentionally in all his sentences.  All professionalism went out the window as we jokingly bantered back and forth about Policy and the size of the pit bull like kids on a playground, all the while this huge dog is eye balling us, before I finally said “I’ll call Sarge.” 

 So we walk back to the squads and I call Sarge who AGREED with me (Dave shot me the bird as I wrote “told you so punk” on my notepad) to not enter the apartment, but we needed to try and shut the door. 

So, we then went back to the apartment to shut the patio door, only to find that thepit bull was now GONE. 

Me:  “Where the hell that dog go?!”
Dave: <cackling> “Bro, he’s hiding, waiting to eat your face when you go shut that door.”
Me:  “You shut it… you’re a foot taller than me and can get over that railing better…and I’m a better shot than you.”
Dave:  <still cackling>  “it’s your call bro. You found it.”

So we came up with the plan: as I hopped over, he would watch and cover me against the still hidden pit bull.  The apartment patio is several feet below the level of the parking lot, and I got in position to hop the fence. I turn around and look back at Dave who now has his phone out.

Me:  “What the <blank> you doing?!”
Dave:  “Bro, when that dog jumps out at you, you’re either gonna end up in the mud or lose an arm, both of which will be awesome on youtube… but I promise I’ll only let him get one arm.”
Me:  “You mother…”
Dave:  <laughing almost uncontrollably>

Well, I made it over the railing without getting eaten, and got the door shut without seeing the dog again.  I am sure if anyone was watching they were like “what the hell is wrong with those cops.”

I know I could never do justice to the mannerisms and voice of Dave. I just hope those that knew him can insert him and know just how funny this was. 

Was I actually ever concerned about that dog?  Absolutely not! As much as we were joking around, I never once doubted Dave would be there if that dog had showed up. 

Miss you BRO, see you on the other side…”

~ P.B., Euless PD