A Story: A NYC Coincidence

I’ve been having a very hard day today. I can feel what kind of day it will be when I first wake up. If my heart feels heavy (I wonder how that feeling even comes about), I will probably have a very, very sad day.

I woke up with my heart feeling heavy. An appointment I had got cancelled, so I kind of tried to bumble my way through my morning, heading to the coffee shop to do some reading. In the end, I just ended up sitting there, but I give myself points for effort. When I got home, I received a message from Bryan R. about something that JUST happened to him. He agreed to let me share with you all.

“How about this for a little coincidence: currently working in uniform and standing outside of a school.  Two teenage girls and their guardian approached me saying they are on a spiritual mission and are going around praying for people.  I asked where they are from. They answered Texas.  I asked if they heard of Euless, and they said they live in a town 30 minutes from there (I forgot which one specifically).  One teenager said we would like to pray with/for me because they saw me and thought of “the wonderful police officer who died a few months ago.”  One girl looked at my tattoo and asked to see it fully, and I raised my arm, and the other teen said, “Wait, that’s the name of the police officer?”  I gave a short summary of Dave’s adventure from here to Texas.  “We will pray for his family and police officers everywhere” were their parting words.”

Thank you, ladies. Your message has reached us.

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A Tribute: Three Months Gone (and a Slideshow)

Today marks three months since Dave was killed. How surreal. In this time, I can honestly say that I have done nothing but think about him and the circumstances of his death. It makes me feel like I’m a bit in a time-warp, like everything just happened. But then, in a way, that makes sense. His being gone means a complete restructuring of everything I thought I knew about what my life would be like. I may have had many possible versions for my life when I thought about what the future might bring, but fundamentally, he was part of all of those versions. I say this as Dave’s sister, and I know it’s even more acute for Marta. The most heart-breaking thought, to me, is that when I eventually have children, they won’t know Dave. Someone who was so, so, so important to me, will simply be a collection of stories to them.

I thought it fitting to post the slideshow that Lucas Funeral Homes put together for Dave’s viewing. If you have 10 minutes, and are somewhere private (because: tears), watch it.

David was a son, a fiancee, a brother, a grandson, an uncle, a cousin, a best friend to so, so many, and the funniest dang person any of us knew. If love alone could have kept him safe, he would be with us still.

A Tribute: A Lifetime of Light

This is final part of a longer note I received from Bryan R. For related posts see: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7.

He was an anomaly. He operated out of the norm at times, yet he always had a reason, and I always had a laugh.  My life is better because I knew him; my life is shattered because I knew him.  However, for every moment in which I think back to March 1st, I have a lifetime of light to break the darkness.

~ Bryan R., NYPD

A Tribute: The NYPD Memorial 5K

Yesterday, my parents and I and over 2500 others participated in the NYPD Memorial Run to honor the legacy of of the 882 NYPD officers who have fallen in the line of duty. 882 souls who have given their lives to protect those of the citizens of NYC.

It was a very moving experience. Beginning with an invocation by an NYPD chaplain, that was both poignant and humorous (delivered with a great New York accent!), the singing of the national anthem by a female officer, and the mournful playing of the bagpipes during a moment of silence for our fallen heroes.

Most striking to me was seeing all the personalized race bibs, many with names of the recently fallen, and many more graced with names of officers whose legacy endures even though they have left us long time past. “My brother” is what my bib said. Others wore bibs that marked their own relationship to an officer: my son, my husband, my partner, my father, my cousin, my friend, my hero, … The list goes on. Let us honor those who have left us, but let us also remember those who are left behind, for enduring their unthinkable loss. The officers, the families, the friends and supporters all deserve our deepest gratitude.

I also want to mention that we understand that Dave is not an “official” fallen NYPD officer as he had retired and joined another department. Yet, there were close to 100 people there to honor him. Thank you to each one of you. There are so many people who are making a tremendous effort to make sure his sacrifice is honored in NYC as well. I want to take this opportunity to thank Bryan R. who has been at the forefront of these efforts. Thank you, Bryan, for all you’ve done and all you continue to do for Dave. And, thank you, to everyone who is helping with this in the background. We may not know each of you, but know that we’re grateful.

A Story: On Avoiding Overtime

This is part 1 of a longer note I received from Bryan R. I decided to make it into a few posts that will be posted in the coming days.

Dave lead a rather humorously paradoxical lifestyle.

“Fear” and Dave did not get along, as he was always at the frontline of any critical circumstance up here in New York and in Texas.  Just don’t ask him to actually spend time processing an arrest: it might lead to unwarranted overtime, and just like the term “fear,” Dave and overtime did not get along.

One New Years Eve, we had to work in Times Square for the ball-drop.  It’s a long day/night, and Dave did not want to risk being stuck to work a continued shift within our command.  Therefore, on a blistering cold (fifteen degrees, if lucky), Dave had the bright idea to drive my car up to our muster-location, packed with our clothes for going out after.  At dismissal (well after two o’clock in the morning, mind you), Dave and I sat in my car (which does not have any tints on the windows) and undressed (almost completely) to change into regular clothing.  Forget about a warm precinct.  “Everyone else is a sucker for going back to the base!” 

~Bryan R., NYPD

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A Thought: On Openness

I signed up to receive notifications when someone comments on my post “My Brother Was Killed Because He Wore A Uniform” on one of the major law enforcement Facebook pages. I can honestly say that most feedback has been supportive and honors my brother and other police officers. Some feedback is especially meaningful. Then, occasionally, something like this appears:

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I know this is a person who doesn’t actually care about these issues in a deep way. I doubt they even read my post. For whatever reasons, they have made up their mind that all cops are power-hungry and racist [yes, those words have been used in response to my article] and decided that, for those reasons, the lives of people in Blue don’t matter. I will spare you some of the worst comments I’ve seen, but I think you can imagine what they might be.

I don’t care who you are or what your background is. Life ALWAYS matters. It’s painful to know that people are so blinded by their narrow views and hate, that they simply dismiss this fundamental mandate. Life matters. My brother’s life mattered. Even this hateful person’s life matters.

But, ultimately, these are not the people one can expect to reach with a message of betterment. I truly believe that people with these hateful views are a very tiny minority of our society.

What is a lot more common, however, is that many other people have narrowed their worldview so significantly, that they are only grabbing bits and pieces of information to form their perspective on what the police means. They are only grasping at the stories and details that support their already established views. They are only talking to other people who believe the same things that they do. And, unfortunately, this happens on all sides of the discussion: the community can have detrimental ways of thinking about law enforcement, and law enforcement can have detrimental ways of thinking about the communities they serve.

This is where the change needs to happen.

We need to challenge ourselves to look beyond what we think we know to integrate information and events that, maybe, are contrary to our beliefs.

We need to challenge ourselves to see the nuances of controversial issues, and in fact, to seek out information that represents the other side of the discussion.

We need to challenge ourselves to engage meaningfully and respectfully with the people who believe the opposite of what we do.

Ultimately, we need to be open to changing our minds.

A Thought: To Our Heroes

This post is long overdue, but know that we have thought of you every single day. These words are dedicated to Dave’s friends and fellow officers who were there with him on March 1st.

You were there. You did everything in your power to save him. You were shot at. Yet, you moved forward in the face of grave danger without consideration of your own safety. You prevented the loss of more lives. You were with him in his last moments. 

Barely a moment to grieve,  you’re already back out there again. In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, you’re once again patrolling the streets, helping strangers, responding to more “shots fired” calls.

You are heroes. My family knows this.

You are in our hearts, always.

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A Thought: On Funerals

A few days ago, May 4th, 2016 to be exact, marked the one-year end of watch anniversary of NYPD officer Brian Moore who was violently killed while performing his duty of protecting and serving the people of New York City. We’re also about to head into Police Week, which honors the service and sacrifice of the about 140-160 officers that lose their life in the line of duty each year. Thinking about Moore’s death, and that of so many others, I couldn’t help but also remember the many, many times Dave put on his dress uniform, wrapped his shield in a mourning band, and took his place among the thousands of officers paying their respects to a fallen officer. Once he moved to Texas, Dave flew back and forth between NYC and Texas numerous times to honor his fallen brothers.

It’s devastating to know that this is the current reality of being a police officer in the United States. Attending funerals, wearing mourning bands and memorial shirts, and making donations to the families of the fallen are all part of the routine responsibilities that many police officers incorporate into their daily living. Just looking through Dave’s photos makes it plain how many officers have been taken too early, too violently.

And now, Dave is one of those fallen.

No matter who we are, no matter whether we grew up rich or poor, no matter the pigment of our skin, no matter our political leanings: We should all know that we have to do better.

For our communities.
For those brave men and women in blue who put everything on the line to keep us safe.
For our humanity.

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One funeral of too many.

A Story: No Drinks That Night

“I called Dave once to see if he wanted to go out for drinks. “I would but I can’t,” he texted. I teased him for being flaky, and he wrote back “This homeless woman just wet herself and I have to take care of it.” He wasn’t showing off. Just telling me the facts. I was so impressed. I felt like such a jerk for teasing him. But that was David; too busy casually saving the world to grab a beer.”

~ Marian L., Friend

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Photo Credit: one of the many random tourists who would ask Dave to take a pic while he worked Time Square (found on Flickr)

A Story: Walking Besides Us

Some of the stories and anecdotes that you lovely people have sent me have been unbelievably moving, but this one just brought me to tears. It truly exemplifies the kind of person Dave was – how he always observed his world and looked out for the well-being of those around him; how he always thought of the little things that could make someone’s day a little brighter. Thank you so, so much, Cindy, for sending us this story.

I worked with David in the 9th precinct. I was his timekeeper. I wanted to give you my sincere condolences. I’m sure you know this better than anyone but he was a amazing man. I sent this same memory to Marta a few days after the services.

On May 14, 2013 I was awaken at close to midnight by multiple phone calls to tell me my fiancé was involved in a motorcycle accident and that he needed me at the hospital. When I arrived I was told he didn’t make it. It’s a day I will never forget and a pain that has yet to leave me. The reason why I’m sharing this with you is because I only chose to take a week off from work at the 9th precinct. I wanted to go back because I knew the support I had there was beyond no other and the work would keep my mind occupied.

I remember coming back to work and seeing David and the hug that he gave me that left me breathless (literally he squeezed me so tight I thought I was going to die) after he hugged me he extended his arms while still holding my shoulders and asked where I was headed. I told him I was going to buy something to eat and immediately he said I’ll drive you wherever you’d like to go. I smiled and thanked him but told him I’d rather go alone, that I could use the walk and fresh air because it had been a rough day for me and I’d been crying on and off all morning. He asked if I was sure and I said yes and thanked him.

As I walked up the street I glanced behind me to see him walking a few paces behind me. I turned to ask him where he was going and he said he was giving me my space but was taking the walk with me and wanted to make sure I was ok. He followed me to the deli and waited outside and then followed me back to the precinct. He did this without saying a word to me. All day he was poking his head into the payroll office just to check on me without saying a word. I’d just see his head peaking in from around the corner. Later on I asked him why he’d followed me to the store instead of walking with me and his response was: “I wanted to give you your space and also make sure you were safe. Besides, I had a feeling your fiancé was walking beside you and I didn’t want to intrude.” (He must’ve heard me talking to myself.) That brought instant tears to my eyes but also a comfort to my heart.

Needless to say everyday that I saw him I had a shadow and it made me laugh so hard but also helped me because every time he did it, I was at a weak/down moment and no one else noticed it but him. He had a heart of gold and will be truly missed.

The last time I spoke to David last month he congratulated me on joining the academy but tried so hard to convince me to join the academy in Euless. I promised him that I would come out to visit and he told me: “I guarantee you once you visit you’re never going to want to leave.” I was looking forward to that vacation but am grateful, thankful and blessed to be able to say that I knew him, and more importantly that he was a friend.

I don’t know what it feels like to have someone take the life of my loved one so violently but I do know what it feels like to have spoken to my fiancé and kiss him sadly for the last time and not even know it. So, I can relate to Marta’s pain although no two people mourn the same. My prayer for you and the family is that you find the strength and peace within your hearts so that you may feel the comfort and security he is still providing for you all. He’s not watching you from up above. He’s walking beside you. May you and the family be blessed now and always.

Love always,

Cindy J., NYPD

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