Without question, those of us fortunate enough to serve as members of the law enforcement community share an unmatched closeness and bond with our colleagues. The nature of our mission and the inherent danger omnipresent as we perform our duties remain a cause and effect toward the forming of this extremely close relationship. This type of closeness comes with a pi ice when the life of one of our ranks is lost, we all feel the pain and suffering that follows.
On November 29, 2009, the pain and suffering was magnified when the Lakewood, Washington, Police Department (LPD) lost four members in an unprovoked, meaningless assault that, in truth, was an assassination. Sergeant Mark. Ren-niger and Officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards were sitting in a coffee shop owned by a retired police officer--ironically, they considered it a safe place. While working on their laptops prior to their shift, an individual unknown to them walked into the shop and appeared calm and nonthreatening. The stranger walked toward the counter as though to order and then, without warning, pulled a semiautomatic pistol from beneath his coat and opened fire on the officers. All four officers were shot and killed. Details remain unclear, but one of the officers wounded the subject during the encounter. The perpetrator did not attempt to commit a robbery or threaten anyone else present. Clearly, he intended to attack the officers, targets simply due to the uniforms and badges they wore.
A few days after these senseless killings, a Seattle, Washington, police officer shot and killed him. Local, state, and federal agencies put forth an extensive effort and worked around the clock for several days. The Pierce County, Washington, Sheriff's Department (PCSD), led by Sheriff Paul Pastor, had jurisdiction over the investigation. Subsequent investigation revealed that the individual had an accomplice who was a former cellmate in Arkan-sas; he assisted by driving the perpetrator from the scene of the shooting. Authorities discovered that additional accomplices helped the subject after the shooting by providing medical attention, food, and financial assistance.
Attending a law enforcement funeral is a powerful and sad experience never forgotten. I vividly recall the funerals of FBI Special Agents Martha Dixon Martinez and Mike Miller and Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Sergeant Hank Daley, all shot and killed in a similar attack as they sat in the perceived safety of MPD headquarters on November 22, 1994. After the playing of "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes and taps as a final salute, there always remains in the minds and hearts of grieving colleagues a deep sense of sorrow and regret. If we freely admit it, we must address feelings of despair and trepidation in regard to moving forward.
This difficult task of leading that movement forward falls to our leaders; they hold responsibility for starting the healing and recovery process. Both Sheriff Pastor of the PCSD and LPD Chief Bret Farrar confronted a leadership challenge among their ranks usually reserved...