Each day I log on to my computer and think maybe today will be the day that there won’t be any articles stating that a police officer has died. I can’t seem to remember a time when I didn’t do this, although I know it was only 23 short months ago that this world for me didn’t exist.
I worried about my brother being an officer. I always asked God to watch over him, but I never knew anything beyond that. I would hear about an officer dying in an accident or shooting and would think how sorry I was for that family. In October 2010 I learned how those families really felt when I received the call that my brother had died in a car accident while responding to a call.
Tommy would call and talk about things he saw on the job. He would call me on the way to an officer’s funeral where he was doing a detail, but losing him didn’t really cross my mind. I worried about his safety, but I never imagined anything really happening to him.
I read today about Sergeant Ian Loughran who passed away from a heart attack of which he started experiencing while at a funeral for another officer, Corporal Charles Licato from his own department.
Most people, when they lose a family member, remember that person in private. They plan a funeral and service at a local funeral home and usually a church they know. They call their family, figure out dates, and order flowers.
When I read about an officer dying, I immediately think of the media. I think about how the family will not have any privacy, I think about finding a church big enough to hold over a thousand people and a funeral home to accommodate all the people that will turn out.
We were placed in hotels and I remember coming down one morning to the front page of the newspaper having us on the cover. The first picture of our family without Tommy was on the front page of a newspaper. I couldn’t even wrap my head around that.
These families, as heartbreaking as it is, are also going to experience this. The days are a blur as the family is escorted everywhere. I remember coming home after Tommy’s funeral and finding it so weird to be driving myself somewhere and being in a car that didn’t have lights and sirens. I don’t want another family to feel this pain; I don’t want them to know what this road is like.
My heart sinks when I see of another officer being gone. These officers all do this job because they love it, they have an incredible passion for it, and they’re good at it. These two families are forever changed. I wish so badly there was something to say or a way to take their pain, but I know all too well that unfortunately it’s not possible.
Writer Karen Portz is the sister of a fallen LEO.