Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Essay Rewind: Cops Killed on Duty

[2010 In Review]

Almost one year ago, I was standing with other mourners on a bridge here in Arlington, Texas. We were watching the impressively long funeral motorcade of a city cop killed in the line of duty. They came from all over Texas: hundreds of police motorcycles and squad cars, joining private vehicles of family members and local dignitaries streaming in procession along the freeway underneath us.

Officer Craig Story died last January here in Arlington while trying to pull over a speeding motorist. The motorcycle Story had been plying through thick rush hour traffic clipped a school bus and exploded.

Last night, here in town, officer Jillian Smith was shot to death while responding to a domestic disturbance call. Although police investigators have yet to piece together all of the details, it appears Smith and the female complainant were killed by the male suspect, who then turned his gun on himself. It is believed Smith was attempting to shield the complainant's young daughter from being shot.

The state of Texas already led the nation in the number of cops killed in the line of duty this year, and Smith's murder only rubs salt in the wound. Some people like to claim the Lone Star State's gun-toting swagger has something to do with all the shooting going on here, but you have to admit that the National Rifle Association has it right: guns don't kill people, people do.

If the suspect who killed Smith was enraged enough to kill two people last night, wouldn't he have done it with or without a gun? Personally, I suspect that most violence - gun or otherwise - in our country comes more from our infatuation with lethal behavior rather than the equipment people deploy while committing their crimes. From movies to video games to television, people of all ages consume too much anti-social behavior designed as entertainment. And in the process, the value of life melts to insignificance.

That's why I think it's appropriate on today's Essay Rewind to revisit the woman standing by the side of the road that windy day last January, as a motorcade stretched as far as the eye could see, in honor of another fallen officer.

And may God have mercy on this latest family mourning the loss of one of Arlington's Finest.

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