Thursday, March 27, 2014

In the Line of Duty

In 1991, Barbara Miksicek , David McElreath  and retired Lt. Colonel Stephen Pollihan coauthored a very special book called In the Line of Duty: St. Louis Police Officers Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice. The book chronicled the stories of the 148 St. Louis Police Officers killed in the line of duty from 1861-1990.
Being a Police Officer is an emotional job, everyday. When an officer is injured it istraumaticbut when an officer dies in the line of duty, it is the worst of the worst.  We remember our fallen officers each year in May during Police Week and with a Memorial Breakfast.  

This year is special. The second edition of In the Line of Duty: St. Louis Police Officers Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice by Barbara Miksicek and Kristiana Carnaghi published is now available. The book tells the heroic stories of all 164 fallen St. Louis Police Officers who were killed in the line of duty. Not only does this book allow us to remember and memorialize our heroes, but it also helps us to share their stories.
The stories of each officer’s death have been updated with new information and new pictures. In the first edition, then Police Chief Robert Scheetz wrote the book’s forward.  I was honored to pen the forward for the second edition. Below you can read both Chief’s reflections on those who served our city. I hope these stories move and inspire you.

First Edition

"Here stands our city's perfect warrior.  Here stands our perfect shining blue knight."  These words were spoken by Jack Buck, the keynote speaker at the dedication of our memorial statue on May 15, 1989.  The statue honors the 148 officers of the St. Louis Police Department who have died in the line of duty.  It stands as a reminder that these men performed the greatest act any police officer can do - they gave their lives to protect others.

This book, In the Line of Duty, also honors these men.  It is not a book about death.  Rather, it is a book about service, duty and valor of 148 officers.  There was no great wealth in their chosen profession, nor was there any lasting fame. They had families who loved them and who were waiting for them to return home from work.  They were fathers, husbands, sons and brothers.  And they are special not because they died, but because they served.

I am especially pleased the authors dedicated this book to the families of the deceased officers, for it is they who had to endure the pain of losing a loved one.  It is difficult to read this book and not think of the families of the slain officers, particularly their children.  I want the children to know that their fathers were not only special to them, but also to all of us in the Department, as well as to the citizens of St. Louis.  I also want the children to know that their fathers will not be forgotten - not now, not ever.  They will constantly be in our prayers and serve as an inspiration to us all.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the list of those who died in the line of duty was complete as it now stands?  That the tragedy of a slain officer would never again be repeated?  For those who have already made this ultimate sacrifice, this book is our tribute.

Colonel Robert E. Scheetz
Chief of Police

Second Edition

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  
Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
George S. Patton, Jr.

This is not a book of mourning.  This is a book of gratitude.  The stories told here deserve more than just our tears.  They deserve our thanks, now and forever.  The 164 lives remembered in these pages are not tragic.  They are heroic and exemplary, because although every life ends in death, only the greatest lives can be defined by service.

And yet to say this does not diminish our sorrow, nor take away the anxiety we all feel, knowing that what has happened before will happen again.  For it is not about their own safety that police officers worry most, it is about the safety of their brothers and sisters in arms.  What wakes us up at night is not a selfish thought, but a social emotion.  It is the nightmare of getting that call, driving to the hospital, talking to another family torn by loss, standing at another gravesite, knowing that another chapter must be added to this book, knowing that one more is too many because one has always been too many.
This book does not exist to remind us of our shared risks, for we do not need reminding.  Even the simple act of getting dressed for work as a police officer symbolizes the danger we face every day.
The first shock comes when we put on our Kevlar vest, and there’s something surreal about it, because we know it is there to protect our vital organs.  The weight of it, the sound of the Velcro straps, it gets our attention immediately.  We put on our duty belt, which is there to accommodate our many tools of survival.  We put on our handcuffs, which are there to restrain those who would do harm to the community.  We grab our radio, which is there to summon our brothers and sisters when we need them most.  We grab our Taser, which is there so we can use the least amount of force necessary, because even those who would harm us are still ours to protect.  We holster our gun, which is there in case everything else fails.  We put on our blue shirt, our badge, and our cap, and with all these small acts, we are making a visible pledge to the community.  We are saying, “I am on duty and I am here to serve.”
The officers remembered here all made that same promise, each in his different time, and each in his different way.  At its most fundamental level, this book tells the story of how each officer kept that promise, regardless of cost.

As a way of saying thanks, learning their stories is the very least we can do.

Colonel D. Samuel Dotson
Chief of Police

The public can purchase the book at the St. Louis Police Library, located at 315 S. Tucker, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost of the book is $40.00. Citizens can also find a mail-in order form on our website. The cost of the book plus shipping is $47.00, cash or check.  Make checks payable to the City of St. Louis.

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