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!”

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

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 Story: Pretty woMAN

“Throughout my life, David has been one of the most present friends I’ve ever had.  I’ve known him since middle school and he has consistently kept in touch and reached out to me to connect with him.

In middle school and high school, David was that friend with the awesome apartment that invited me over pretty much every other weekend.  We were a bit awkward together, but found solace bonding over Dragon Ball Z and playing video games.  He always sat me down to play games with him… where he pretty much wrecked me every time.  That set the tone of our friendship. We hung out in loud places such as bars with friends and one on one gaming together or just chatting at his place.  We stayed in touch, when I was in college.  Whenever I was back home, I always took time off to chill with David.  In Seattle, we kept in touch over Xbox Live and the occasional call.   And back in New York, I was always with Dave until he left to Texas.

After high school, I had my heart broken by a crush that broke up with me, which lasted a good time even into college.  David took it upon himself to get me back into dating.  His method was simple, get me as drunk as he could possibly get me, point to someone and push me into that person. Sometimes, he’d even tell that person some fake story about me!  I would awkwardly fumble through whatever situation he put me in. 

I always had a lot of fun hanging out with him.  He always pushed me. He’d tell me to just talk to people and get comfortable.  He even took it upon himself to get a friend to “pretty woman” me and clean me up for dating after he left for Texas!  He helped me break out of my comfort zone, and I appreciated it and was always down to hang with him and act stupid.”

~ Greg T., Friend

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A break from snowmobiling on Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Rangeley, Maine

A Story: On Missing The Last Train Out

“I met Dave when we both worked together in the beginning of our careers, our lockers were close to each other’s in the same row at work.  And like many of the friendships he started, ours began with him encouraging me to go out with him after our tour.  I was sometimes reluctant because I knew that if I went with him I’d end up missing my late train from Penn station and would have to end up having to “wait” until the early morning train.  And “waiting” just means staying out longer. Anyone who relies on the LIRR knows what that means.  But when I gave in I never regretted it (accept for maybe the slight hang-over) and when I agreed he usually responded with a,“yeah kiiiiiiiiiiid!”

He took me to his spot, introduced me to all his friends, and made sure I was always taken care of.  He was always having a good time and just wanted me to have a good time too.  It was that simple.  He wanted to share this happiness with anyone and everyone, he didn’t keep it to himself.  Texas was no different.  I remember when he first called me to tell me about his plans.  My phone rang and when I answered, his first words were literally, “North Richland Hills”, which is one of the City’s close to Euless.  At that time, when you took the entrance exam for Euless PD, that exam made you eligible for several other departments that hire off of the same list, North Richland Hills included.  He was so pumped to pursue his career down there, and so excited to build that dream life (and especially to have his own pool), that how he got there and where he worked was just, at first, a minor technicality.  Eventually he called me back to tell me it was Euless he really wanted, but I still laugh at that first call.  And right away he was encouraging me to take the test too. He hadn’t even been there yet! He was just so sure about it.

He told me about everything, step-by-step on the whole process, and we talked often once he left.  I had been down to visit and saw everything first hand just as he described. Himself, Marta and the rest of his Texas family have built a great new home in a short period of time.

As has already been described time and time again, Dave was a great, loyal, honest, dependable and trustworthy friend.  He was my go-to for advice and he was always good for a laugh.  Especially when he used his German accent, which was probably my favorite thing.”

~ Sean F., former NYPD

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A Story: Making Moves

“It took a few months, but I am so lucky that Dave convinced us to move to Texas. I met Dave 3 years ago and Dave went from being a character (“my partner”) that I only heard about to a amazing friend of my own. I have so many memories from the past 7 months that I will cherish an entire lifetime. I figured I’d share the day we moved to Texas.

We walked out of the airport and there was Dave. Standing outside his car waving to us with the biggest smile on his face. He embraced Mike and I and said: “Welcome to the good life!” He was right. Mike and I scheduled our car and furniture to be delivered all in the same day as we moved.  As we got into Dave’s car I saw two red bulls, one for Mike and one for me, a huge bottle of wine for me and a humidor for Mike. Considering Dave loved cigars, whether Mike liked them or not, he better start! And, he did! 

He brought us to to pick up Mike’s car and then followed us to our apartment. Instead of doing whatever he needed to do, he sat outside and waited for us to finish our hour-long paperwork. He did a walk-through of our apartment. And, after all this he took us to lunch, paid as a “welcome to Texas”meal (which of course included sangria!). 

He then brought us to Total Wine and back to the apartment. Now, you’d think after a full day of helping us, Dave would go home.  No, not Dave. He carried couches, beds, televisions, and so many boxes into our apartment. Finally he turned to Mike and I and said: “Stop! You have time to unpack. You need to enjoy your time here!” So, we went to the pool. We drank beers, and the boys smoked cigars. 

Dave was Mike’s best friend, but did not know me or owe me anything. Through the next few months Dave spent at least three days a week at our apartment. Each time, taking the to get to know me. His friendship with Mike is something I will always cherish. And to me, he became a brother.”

~ Stefanie O., Friend

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A Story: My Dear Friend Dave

Two Years ago, I got on a plane and took a vacation to visit my cousin Ed and his wife Michelle who had recently moved down to Dallas, Texas. In that short weekend I met a wonderful group of people. One in particular stood out to me. Dave.

On that trip to Texas, I had my first glass of moonshine, my first shot of fireball because there was no saying no to Dave. I learned that very quickly.

Having loved Texas so much I planned to go back in a few months during the summer to look at apartments and a potential job opportunity.

Again, I was lucky enough to spend two weeks down there with this special group of people. My cousin and his wife welcomed me in as did their friends.

I remember Dave for a good chunk of my two weeks there, telling me that I would be crazy not to move down here.

Eventually a couple of months later, I decided I would move down to Texas, try it out and just take a risk. After my big move, the first time I saw Dave his words were “I told you that you’d be back.” He was right.

After having lost my mother in 2013, I also lost some friendships, true friendships. I felt people didn’t know how to be around me, didn’t know what to say, and pitied me. This group of people in Texas just got me. Having had shared with them in different settings the story about my mom, they all just understood. They didn’t pity me, they didn’t look at me differently when they found out and they knew how to keep me smiling and busy.

A good amount of my time down there in Texas was spent with Dave and Marta. They welcomed me with open arms; they constantly included me and invited me to go out with them. I never felt uncomfortable or out of place or like I was third wheeling.

I always looked forward to getting a text from Dave. Some consisted of…

“Sangria. Our place. 4:00.”

“Village Burger Bar. Be there”

“Poolside Sunday fun day. Meet us at the pool”

I also always looked forward to going to Ed and Michelle’s after work. At the time I did not have a washer and dryer so I did wash at Ed and Michelle’s every Thursday. Just about every Thursday I walked in to the house to find Ed and Dave just hanging out. Just about every time they were drunk, half naked, or poolside, fireside, and passing out on the couch.

My favorite story had to be when I arrived at Ed’s house around 5:30. I can see them sitting by the fire-pit as I walked through the door. I walked in and was welcomed by Ed with a “What’s uppp Teacherrrr?” and from Dave with a “What’s up kiddddddddd? Want some fireball?”

We got on the topic of the word “BAE”. A new word everyone was using to refer to their significant other. Ed and Dave having never head of that term asked me what it meant. I first asked them to guess. You can only imagine the guesses that came out of their drunken mouths.

“balls, and ass eater” is just one example.

I eventually told them it meant “before anyone/thing else”

They found this comical and extremely stupid. They  started asking each other if they wanted to be their BAE’s. The next five minutes consisted of Ed and Dave looking all googly-eyed at each other, sticking their tongues out, licking their cups and being weird. Telling each other how much they loved each other. This was nothing new to me, I always enjoyed watching this and decided to film it. It is a video I watch back frequently.

Then….

Drunk Ed asked Drunk Dave to make him a glass of scotch. There happened to be just a little bit of scotch left. Dave did as he was asked and brought drunk Ed his drink. Drunk Ed was NOT happy. Drunk Ed was insistent that drunk Dave spiked the glass with fireball. As an eye witness, drunk Dave did not spike the drink. Drunk Ed went to make a new drink only to find that there was NO MORE SCOTCH! Drunk Ed went on a rant and Ed was not having this. Dave felt bad and said he would go to Total Wine to get him a new bottle.

There was no way drunk Dave was driving to his favorite spot so I offered to take him. He refused to go in my “toy car” as he called it so he allowed me to drive his car.

“Woah slowdown”

“Watch out”

“Goooo”

“Be careful with my car”

“Watch the bump”

“Go faster”

“You’re driving on the floor lights, don’t you hear it?”

Let’s just say I never drove Dave’s car again……..

Because drunk Ed and drunk Dave weren’t drunk enough, Dave bought a bottle of fireball and a giant bottle of scotch to make up for drunk Ed accusing him of spiking his drink.

This ordeal of drunken stupidness continued as more friends started to show up. The boys had planned on going to “the spot” at the Shops at Legacy. They told me I should come and have a drink with all them. I was in my sweats and had no desire to be at a bar. So I offered to drop them off. As they all got out of the car Dave and Ed looked and me and Dave said , “You better go home, change and come meet us.”

As I was driving home I decided I would go home, change, and meet them, as per Dave’s request. We’ll just say it was an interesting night of watching drunken 30 year olds at the bar.

There are countless days and nights that I was able to spend with Dave. Some comical like the story above and some just low key nights. Dave always welcomed me to their apartment, always included me when his friends came to town for the weekend. He tried to set me up with a number of his friends because all he truly wanted was for people to be happy. He looked out for me like a little sister. Most importantly he always kept me laughing hysterically and smiling when I was hurting inside.

Dave was a good guy. He was genuine, selfless, beautiful, funny, kind, generous, happy, intelligent, silly and a friend. There aren’t many people I called a friend after the passing of my mom. But to me, even in just the two and a half years I knew Dave, he was a good friend.

My time in Texas came to an end, I was missing my family in New York and decided to move back and just take it a year at a time. When I told Dave and Marta, they were sad. I spent a lot of time with them before I left. We spent a day balcony and pool hopping, drinking Sangria and just laughing. A lot of the conversation consisted of Dave saying , “You are crazy to move back.” “You are going to go home, be miserable and come back. Just wait, you’ll see.” “Don’t leave, don’t go back to New York.”

My Dear Friend Dave,

You are a beautiful human.

I thank you for your friendship.

I thank you for being you.

I thank you for the laughter.

I thank you for the memories.

I thank you for looking out for me.

I thank you for your service, for your ultimate sacrifice. You are my hero.

When I close my eyes I can summon back your smile and laughter in my mind.

You will live on in my heart.

~ Allissa P., Friend

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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.