Usually, when I sit down to write a column I try to think of a funny story, a favorite quote, or some interesting trivia. My topics are usually light-hearted. I write in the hope of bringing a smile.
But every once in a while something happens that shakes a person so deeply that they have to write about it. And, for me, that something happened last week when Cincinnati police officer Sonny Kim was killed in the line of duty.
An Associated Press (AP) article summarizes the tragedy: Cincinnati’s police chief says a man suspected of fatally shooting an officer apparently wanted police to kill him in what the chief described as “suicide by cop.”
The suspect, since identified as 21-year old Trepierre Hummons, was also killed during last week’s incident.
The AP article adds that Kim, a decorated 27-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department, was the first to respond to 911 calls concerning “a man with a gun.” The AP states that Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell later said in a press conference: “We now know that the caller himself was the shooter of our officer.”
A visitation is scheduled for Kim on Thursday and a funeral service is set for Friday.
According to WCPO, “Kim’s body was released from the UC Medical Center and transported via sheriff’s escort” to a funeral home in Loveland last weekend. The escort passed my family and me as we were on our way to a favorite restaurant. There were countless patrol vehicles – some cruisers and some motorcycles, some police and some sheriff’s – with lights flashing, but their sirens silenced.
The sky was cloudy and the roads were wet from a fresh fall of rain. A thin layer of mist was in the air. It seemed in those few moments when the escort passed us by that the entire world was mourning.
I write often about the many things that connect us as humans. I am a strong believer that even though we live in a world intent on highlighting our differences, our similarities are far stronger.
And nothing is stronger, perhaps, than when we unite during a loss. I wish that this was a type of camaraderie that we never had to face, that we could grow closer only through happy moments and fond memories. But life is, unfortunately, not without sadness. And such feelings can either tear us a part or bring us together.
More often than not, it does the latter.
But, for now there will be hurt. There will be a sickening feeling about the circumstances of the shooting. And there will be countless questions.
Above all, however, I hope there will be a reminder of what law enforcement officers do for their communities every day. Because lately there has been a lot of animosity toward law enforcement.
And are there some officers who have misused their authority? Sure. But are there also doctors, lawyers, teachers, directors, politicians, engineers, journalists, scientists, managers, repairmen, nurses, psychologists, actors, pharmacists – and a million other jobs – that have done the same?
Yes – a resounding, whole-hearted yes.
And yet, somehow the ones who work the hardest to protect us are the ones receiving the most disdain and disrespect.
Because I firmly believe that the vast majority of officers truly want to protect and serve, just as I believe that most teachers want to help kids, that most journalists want to inform and educate, and that most doctors want to treat and cure (just as a few examples).
Law enforcement does not deserve the hostility that, as a group, it has been shown in recent months. After all, officers go to work every day knowing that something could go wrong. There is a chance that they won’t come home. And I can’t even begin to fathom those days when officers have to face some fatality. Because there are times when a car accident ends with the death of a teenager, or a child, or a family.
That is a weight I can’t comprehend. And it is something that I, thankfully, do not have to confront because there are some brave individuals who are willing to take that burden.
Officer Kim was one such person. And while I hope that last week’s tragedy might remind some people of the sacrifice that comes with a badge, I hope above all that the family he left behind finds comfort. I know they will be in my prayers.
Thank you, officer Kim, and all of those who serve our communities.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.