Delayed reaction

With the recent shooting of 3 police officers in Stanton Heights, I’ve found myself running a full gambit of emotions — when I take the time to think about it. That’s why my posts in the past few days have been light, or on the short side. When I stop, my mind is filled with thoughts of this tragedy.

But in the interest of moving ahead, I figured I better at least try and get some of the stuff that’s on my mind out.

Now, no, I didn’t know any of the men who were killed or injured. But do you remember that whole 6-degrees of separation thing with Kevin Bacon? Well, if you’re not from Pittsburgh, let me phrase it like this: If you live here, you are basically 3 steps from knowing any one person in the region. I can recount story upon story where I would go to a party out in the middle of nowhere and bump into someone I hadn’t seen in years, because someone was great friends with a guy he met in college, who was the host’s best friend growing up. I’ve gone to weddings where I went in only knowing my date — and bumped into folks I knew. Whenever I go out, I fully expect to run into at least 3 people that I know. We’re a city that is really a collective of small towns, and no one is every really a stranger — in a very real sense, you just don’t know how you know them … yet.

With that in mind, I was 1 or 2 steps from all 3 of the men who were killed. This comes from having a lot of friends in law enforcement. And I’ve had friends in law enforcement for years. Friends who were just straight up street cops to detectives to members of the SWAT team to working for the various federal bureaus.

Sometimes it’s hard to think about how dangerous and unpredictable a cop’s job can be. I mean, when I go into work, there’s an unpredictable element to it: Will my boss be wound-up insane or asleep in his office? Will he be up my ass or one of my coworker’s? Will the computer system crash down around us or will it be stable? But there’s certain things I don’t worry about … like when I open the office door, I’m 99.9% sure that no crazed assclown will be greeting me with a loaded AK-47.

I know there’s a saying among officers that no call is a “routine call” — but when it’s a domestic about a guy arguing with his mom — I know I wouldn’t expect it to happen. Young guys living in their parent’s basement is fairly common around here, and I’m sure that kind of call isn’t terribly uncommon. I think they would think about this happening if they were serving a warrant, or if it were a domestic call between husband and wife, or guy and girlfriend. But between son and mom? I’m sure they were thinking they’d separate them, the son would calm down — maybe he’d spend a night in jail — and it’d be done.

As more of the details get released, I know I will become more angry and frustrated. I’m already hearing scuttlebutt that it was well known in the area that the shooter was a nut. That people feared he’d snap one day. And now it seems their fears were justified — but why did 3 men have to die to prove it? Man, I just want to scream. I mean, I keep looking for something … anything … that could have tipped off the officers, but really, I can’t. They walked into a hurricane of rage that they never saw coming.

For those of you who work in law enforcement — you do a job that I could never do. A job that I think I can safely safe that I would not want to do. But thank you for stepping and up and doing it. Hopefully, fate will never deliver you a call like these men received. God bless and keep safe.


1 Response to “Delayed reaction”

  1. 1 Mike
    April 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I was at the Hofbrauhaus that night, not 6 hours after the standoff ended. Sure enough, the police were there, on their beat. They had the black bands around their badges. After the day they had, I’m sure there was nothing less appealing to them than standing at a beer garden, watching a bunch of drunken idiots stumble around. But they were there anyway, doing their job. That struck a chord with me. If some idiot showed up with an AK-47, they’d be rushing to get in front of us, and trying to protect us.
    Thank you.

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