Armed with faith in the war on cops, Point 27 board member equips Arizona officers with source of hope

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By our friends at Point 27

This month, Point 27 Board member, Pinal County Chief Deputy Assistant Matt Thomas, served as the conduit for honoring law enforcement officers in the Phoenix area: US Marshals Special Agents; Chandler Police Officers; and Apache Junction Police Officers; Arizona State Troopers, and FBI Special Agents.

Point 27 Director US Army (Ret.) Col. David Dodd and Thomas gave recognition and presentations of Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength and Keepsake Folded Flag Pendant Necklaces to officers at the AZ Post Headquarters in Phoenix: including 120 dog tag necklaces and 20 Keepsake Folded Flag Necklaces to US Marshal Special Agent Jennifer Hawkins for the US Marshals, Phoenix Field Office; and 360 dog tag necklaces to Chandler Police Assistant Chief Bryan Cox for officers of the Chandler PD.

Thomas says he continues to coordinate with the Phoenix Police Department to honor and equip Phoenix PD officers with the Thin Blue Line dog tag necklaces.

In 2019, Thomas coordinated equipping his fellow deputies in the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office with Thin Blue Line dog tag necklaces.

Later, during the height of the pandemic when many churches were not meeting in person, Thomas says he joined a Zoom prayer group through which he met David Dodd. Thomas said the two felt a kinship.

“The colonel understands what my current position is like—it’s much like that of a military colonel,” Thomas said. “We immediately connected.”

Dodd would ultimately invite Thomas to serve on the Point 27 Board of Directors and help push the Point 27 mission forward.

Thomas says he understands how much those scripture-inscribed dog tag necklaces mean to law enforcement officers.

“In law enforcement you get a jaded view and you kind of give up on God—starts to turn you and harden your heart,” Thomas said.

“The only way you avoid that and keep some level of humanity is to stay connected to God. I understand what you can become and how you become if you don’t have that.”

For law enforcement, he says, “The Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength gives law enforcement something tangible to feel, look at it, and to remind them, ultimately, who they serve –remind them of what they are there to be courageous; and, when they get the opportunity, to help broken people.”

He says, “the Thin Blue Line Cross Necklace I wear when I can, reminds me constantly of what my foundation is. You are in all these situations, dealing with broken people all the time. The cross gives one of the best ways for me to serve God, to be able to talk to those people and if they are broken and are willing to talk about it…I pull out the cross and that leads us to talk about God.”

It’s a tangible thing, that cross, that reminds me that not only do I work for the Sheriff’s Office but I work for God, too; and need to follow God’s orders, too,” Thomas said.

“In the current culture climate, you can get disheartened in this job quickly,” according to Thomas. “But when I see new people being willing to wear the uniform and take the oath, it gives me hope—you realize these are all worldly fights, guided by a higher principle: a small story driven by a bigger story, and no matter how chaotic it looks in this world, we know we win in the end, so we have hope to keep pushing forward.

The Chief Deputy Assistant, who completes 29 years of service with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office this month, says he reconnected with his faith during the time he was working undercover and–since, his faith has played a big part in his and his family’s life.

“Working undercover, I had opportunity for many long discussions with undercover buddies. I remember mentioning to one officer that no matter what was happening around him, he seemed good. He told me he was and the reason was God. He shared with me how he had gone back to church—found a Christian church that fit him, and reconnected with God.”

Thomas said he and his family started attending that church with his buddy.

“In general, the biggest challenge for law enforcement officers is the work-life balance because that job tends to consume you and tends to put you and your family at risk. We end up divorced most of the time. That’s one reason Point 27 has been so important to me. I knew all the challenges, pitfalls. There was a portion of my life and career completely disconnected from God. I had drifted away, but reached a tenured time in my career when I began to realize I was still missing something. But I couldn’t put my finger on it.”

Thomas said his daughter, then 7 or 8 at that time, kept asking if they could go to church. Though Thomas was raised Catholic, he said he had become disenchanted with Catholic Church and began to think they were part of the problem.

“After starting back to church,” he remembers, “I knew then what I had been missing and I wanted to make sure my kids, my family would have that.”

Career-wise, Thomas has moved up through the ranks with the Pinal Co. Sheriff’s Office, to hold commands and serve in patrol, traffic, narcotics, anti-smuggling, West Desert Task Force, crimes, SWAT and more.

He serves second in command of the Sheriff’s Office consisting of 233 sworn staff, 207 detention staff, and 234 civilian support staff and volunteers in a county that is 5,400 sq. miles with a population of approximately 500,000. He has instructed law enforcement around the U.S. in the area of border- related issues and Mexican cartels.

In 2016, he said he began to feel that men being men were being attacked and he realized that he could have a direct positive influence on another generation of kids and young law enforcement officers, and he has been trying to be a good role model and positive influence: in his church serving in the children’s ministry with his wife, as a male police officer and strong Christian man and gentleman, and through Point 27.

Thomas is currently writing a book about his experiences fighting the Mexican cartels.

Hero down: Cpl. Tullier dies six years after he was shot in ambush that killed three other officers

BATON ROUGE, LA –  Nick Tullier, an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the head and stomach during a July 2016 ambush that killed three other law enforcement officers, has passed away.

Tullier’s death Thursday was announced on his father James Tullier’s Facebook page and on a companion page dedicated to Tullier’s efforts to recover from the shooting.

Neither page mentioned the cause of death but his father said in early May that his son had become septic and was in critical condition.

 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered flags to fly at half-staff over the Capitol and other public buildings in East Baton Rouge Parish in his honor.

Edwards called Tullier, a corporal in the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the other officers shot on July 17, 2016, “true heroes.”

The Sunday morning ambush came less than two weeks after Alton Sterling, a black Baton Rouge resident, was fatally shot July 5 in a struggle with two white police officers when he tried to pull a loaded handgun from his pants pocket outside a convenience store.

Video of the altercation on death spread on social media and led to protests in Baton Rouge and beyond. Neither officer was charged criminally after state and federal investigations.

Two days after the Sterling shooting, a sniper in Dallas killed five police officers and wounded seven others during a Black Lives Matter protest.

Then on July 17, black nationalist Gavin Eugene Long, 29, opened fire on police with a semiautomatic rifle at a B-Quik convenience store on Airline Highway them, The Advocate reported.

The ambush ended when a member of the SWAT team shot and killed Long, of Kansas City, Missouri.

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux issued a statement about Cpl. Tullier’s death. He said:

“I am heartbroken at the passing of a true hero, Cpl. Nick Tullier this morning. Nick’s injury was a result of his selfless actions to courageously answer the call to protect and serve. For nearly six years he has defied all odds in recovery through his unwavering tenacity.”

Tullier, a father of two, had 18 years of service with the sheriff’s department when he was shot.

Tullier, who was a father of two and had 18 years of service with the sheriff’s department, was drinking coffee with East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Sgt. Bruce Simmons on that summer day in 2016 when they heard a call for shots fired and an officer down, according to The Advocate.

Cpl. Tullier and Sgt. Simmons raced to the scene at the convenience store on Airline Highway.

Tullier spotted the gunman’s car, a rented Chevy Malibu with Missouri tags, and was running the plates when Long opened fire on him.

One round struck Tullier in the stomach and a second hit him in the head, shattering his skull and injuring his brain. A third slug struck him in the shoulder.

Long killed East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola and Baton Rouge Police Officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald Garafola.

Simmons, who was shot in the left arm not far from where his friend was gunned down, underwent numerous surgeries to repair the damage inflicted by Long.

Long had emailed a three-page manifesto to a man in Ohio just hours before he ambushed the law enforcement officers, investigators found.

Tullier’s father had created the “Nick Tullier Strong” page on Facebook and posted frequent updates on his son’s condition over the years.

Rehabilitation became a full-time family occupation and Cpl. Tullier’s parents never gave up hope. They followed him to specialty hospitals in Texas and lived in an RV near whatever hospital or treatment facility their son was in at the time. They were able to move him back home to Baton Rouge in 2020.

In Denham Springs, the town where Tullier grew up and played high school football, the local Kiwanis Club created the “Nick Tullier Service Above Self” award.

The club bestows the award on a department, unit, or individual in Livingston Parish law enforcement who has put the needs of others before themselves “without desiring praise, thought, or reward for their actions.”

The hero died on May 5, 2022, almost six years after he was shot in the ambush. James Tullier wrote on Facebook Thursday morning:

“Our precious son died.”

https://fundourpolice.com/

Police officer: I was ambushed, beaten and shot. That was only the start of my battle

February 19, 2022

This editorial has been submitted to Law Enforcement Today by Jeremy Scharlow

On May 7, 2016, I found myself in a position every police officer dreads.

With no provocation or warning I was attacked, punched in the head and shoulders, and eventually shot for simply trying to tell someone their headlights were not working.

Shockingly, the physical healing process was not terrible. I was able to regain most of the use in my dominate arm and I now only suffer from moderate nerve pain and minor mobility/strength issues.

Although physically “okay,” my mental state was an entirely different story.

I had spent countless hours practicing all the tactical scenarios I could imagine. I visualized what I would do if injured and what I would do to ensure I would never fail.

The movements and methods became second nature. I could draw and fire accurately while under pressure and was confident in my tactical abilities. I knew, if confronted, I would never lose a fight.

I then found myself shot. I had been ambushed.

I survived the physical attack, being repeatedly punched in the head and shoulders, and being shot in my dominate shooting arm. I survived!

Immediately after my ambush, I felt immortal.

I felt as though I could not die and that I could overcome any attack that came against me. Although I thought I was prepared for any fight, I found myself completely unprepared for the battle I would soon face. The battle in my own mind.

I began having nightmares and other issues associated with PTSD. Over time, I began struggling more, began dealing with suicidal ideation, depression, and turned to alcohol to help “numb” the pain.

In my quest to numb the pain through alcohol, I made one of the dumbest decisions of my life. I got behind the wheel of a vehicle and decided to drive while intoxicated.

I could give several “reasons” why I made the decision to get behind the wheel and drive after consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Not a single one of them would justify the action itself. I risked my life and the life of others, all because I was unable to cope with my own issues in a healthy manner.

Luckily, before I hurt someone, I was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Although it was the correct action, my arrest helped drive me to the lowest point I had yet encountered. I found myself feeling as though nothing I did mattered, I felt shame, and I felt useless.

I regularly battled intrusive suicidal thoughts and I found myself mixing alcohol and prescription drugs to help me forget.

This landed me in the hospital. Having mixed my prescription drugs and alcohol I began audibly hallucinating. I heard voices telling me how worthless I was and how I did not have any reason to live. I called for help and I physically resisted the help that was sent.

In my altered state, I believed my fellow officers were attempting to hurt me. I said some of the vilest awful things to these men and women who were simply trying to get me the help I needed.

After waking in the hospital the next morning, I realized I was failing at managing my emotional state and allowing it to rule my life. I decided that alcohol and other substances used to help “numb the pain” were doing nothing but causing more trouble. I decided to look of other options.

I began speaking about my experiences. I discussed my ambush, how I was injured, my healing process, the difficulties with my department and the retirement system, my firing, amongst other things.

Sharing my pain, allowed others to see. It allowed others to recognize the difficulties I was dealing with and I found empathy. While empathy helped, it was not enough. I continued to find myself struggling while I continued to look for new ways to help heal.

This is when Operation Enduring Warrior (OEW) found me. In the depths of my abyss, thinking no one understood how helpless, how ashamed, and how worthless I felt; these men and women showed me the light within the darkness.

I found a tribe of other “fucked up” individuals experiencing a lot of the emotions and difficulties I was more than familiar with. I became deeply involved with OEW and through my involvement I found new purpose. This purpose gave me hope… a reason to get up every morning and do better.

I found a place where the focus was removed from my injuries (both physical and mental). I was surrounded by other officers, military vets, and fire fighters (some of them missing limbs) who all shared their experiences of trauma and how they had found ways to cope. No matter the background, the message was the same. NOT DEAD… CAN’T QUIT.

I found myself in a position where I thought myself useful again. I would be able to continue my service to others, although not as I had originally thought. I was thrust into a position where I could help our brother’s and sister’s struggling by showing them a path to healing. A bath that begins in service to others.

To do better I knew I needed to make life changes. I created healthy routines including working out and I limiting my alcohol consumption. I increased my participation in counseling and for the first time in years, I set goals.

Almost immediately my mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing improve dramatically. In finding my tribe with OEW, I found my family. I found others who refuse to become a statistics and live to help others. They showed me through action, that healing is found in service to others.

While I continue to suffer from symptoms associated with PTSD, I have found a new calling and, in this calling, I have found personal growth and healing.

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ~ John Holmes.

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