I noticed with pride that over 20,000 peace officers from all over the world attended the recent police officer funerals in the Tacoma, Washington area. It reminded me of one of my four steadfast guidelines for law enforcement professionals. Number 3: “Attend all law enforcement funerals when practical.”
I assure you I am not this macabre in general, and I don't even like funerals much at all. But there is a bigger mission here. I attend these funerals for two very specific and calculated reasons. First, I want the officers' families, and the public, to see that their death means something to all of us cops. Not just something – it means morethan other deaths. Second, I want to help make the funeral a bigger story.
Given the focus of the Crime Report, I thought I would discuss my second rationale. If it sounds like a superiority complex or some sort of gallows ego, so be it. I believe that the news needs to show thousands of cops mourning together. I believe that the motorcade should be so long that it snarls rush hour traffic and closes thruways all over the state. I believe the service should be as large and inconvenient for the general public as possible.
Because that makes it news.
Here is my bigger philosophical point: Much like the death of a soldier or Marine, the local paper generally gets intimately involved in an officer dying in the line of duty. But only one county away the death is usually a page-two short.
The media outlets are not alone, however. Good folks everywhere hear about a cop dying and say, “what a shame…” as they move swiftly from Starbucks to Target and back home for dinner. Most cannot even tell you the name of the fallen officer. Worse yet are our elected leaders. Again, if it was their police officer they might come to the funeral (wearing the obligatory American flag pin). But ask them the name of that officer two weeks later and see what they say. I know I sound cynical, but elected leaders should really be as involved in these events as the law enforcement folks they manage.
So out of respect for their loved ones and friends – and yes, to make the funeral a bigger story – I implore all of us to attend all the law enforcement funerals we can.
Read more Philosophical Cop at his blog.