Today I watched the testimony for the Jason Van Dyke sentencing. For those not familiar with the case, Jason Van Dyke was a Chicago police officer who shot and killed a black man. He was convicted. Today Jason’s family got the chance to step up and tell the world what kind of person he is.
Happily married, with two teenage daughters, he worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and pay for the happy home in which they lived. Then one-night several years ago a man with a knife came at him, down the middle of the street. He shot that man killing him.
Jason Van Dyke stands to be sentenced for up to 96 years for this conviction. He knows it and so does his family.
His wife got the opportunity to step up and address the court. Her heartfelt plea for mercy had me in tears. Her description of the punishment she and her children have gone through broke my heart. Her fear that he will be murdered in prison is valid.
This is what every officer must deal with each day when he goes to work. This is what his family must deal with each day.
I always made it a point of telling my sons that I loved them every day, because I knew that there might be a day, I don’t make it home. I probably never considered the actual toll it took on my family.
As a police officer, you work hard to provide a safe and happy home for your family. Often that requires you work side jobs and long hours. I did that and never regretted anything other than the time it took away from my family.
My question today is, how can any officer watch Mrs. Van Dyke’s testimony, and then go out and risk everything for people who have no respect for you or your family?
They are in recess for the moment, and when they return the prosecution will get a chance to speak. I’m sure they will speak about how Laquan McDonald will never have the chance to have a happy family life because he was murdered.
They’re correct, he won’t ever have that chance but let’s be honest, who really thinks McDonald was destined for more than a life in prison or a bloody death on a street corner? Sure, miracles happen, but most often in the movies. McDonald was well on his way down a tragic and violent path. It was a matter of time until he killed someone, or he got killed.
As far as Jason Van Dyke, any time in prison may be a death sentence. He’s now a marked man.
So how do you kiss your family and leave for work after seeing this testimony? More important how do you do any police work? I don’t know but I have nothing but respect for those who do each day.
Just yesterday a good friend and I were talking about a recent promotion on our old department. Since we’re retired, we’re allowed to do that. We’re disgusted with this promotion. After a while, we both agreed we’re very glad to be retired and don’t know how we could work under the conditions, officers do, today. This today confirms that even more.
You might look at this and reason that I’m part of the problem. Old school in my ways and beliefs. Since I am a 62-year old white male who was raised a Catholic I already know that my peers and I are the roots of all evil today.
The judge just announced his sentence. Jason Van Dyke will receive 81 months in prison. Already people on television are protesting that there is no justice. Well, this is justice. Van Dyke was arrested, charged, convicted and now sentenced. That is justice. You might not be happy with the outcome, but you can’t say justice was not served.
Stay safe everyone. Run low and zig zag,
– Robert Weisskopf (ret. Lt.)
Note: You can read all of Robert Weisskopf’s articles at https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/author/robertw332/ and find all his books on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2PsbT4t.