11-99 Officer Down

“11-99.”

“Officer down.”

If you’re in law enforcement, you know what these terms mean.  You know the chill it sends down your spine.  You can feel the adrenaline dump surging through your body.  You have felt the extraneous drift away and the focus settle on you.  Your throat tightens.  Your senses sharpen.

Today, I felt all of those things.

As I literally walked away from morning coffee, I heard an officer on the air ask dispatch to confirm an officer called 11-99 and then put the location out.  I didn’t wait for confirmation.  I got on the bike and responded.

Because that’s what we do.

When I arrived on scene, life saving measures were being performed on an officer that had been the victim of a gun shot wound.  Other officers were yelling the victim officer’s name.  Encouraging him to fight.  To stay strong.  To stay alive.

When Fire arrived and the victim officer was put on a backboard, my eyes focused on his left hand.  Specifically, the gold band around his ring finger.

Shit.

When it came time to put the backboard on a gurney, I held that same hand.  I wasn’t in the way, but I certainly wasn’t a key component to his transport from the road to the ambulance.  But it was important to me.  I don’t really know why.

I spent the majority of my day at the hospital.  I tried to help where I could.  I tried to have a servant’s heart.  I shuttled more people from the ER to an auditorium than I can count.  I prayed with the officer that was the victim officer’s backup.  I took photos and collected evidence.  I wasn’t the only one there by any stretch of the imagination.  Officers from multiple jurisdictions were both on scene and at the hospital pitching in and doing what they could to help.

Because that’s what we do.

When all was said and done, I came home to my beautiful Wife and three MClets.  Holding my bride and seeing my kids smile defies cognitive description.  Yet, I can’t help but think about the victim officer and his family.

I didn’t get hurt today.  I showed up to do what I could for another officer I’ve never met as did dozens of others from across the county.  Circumstance led me to be in a position to be up close and personal with the aftermath of today’s shooting.  Consequently, I’ve received multiple calls, texts, and messages from fellow officers asking me how I’m doing.

How I’m doing?

This is one of the many things I love about my chosen career.  It’s this kind of caring for another person that is invasive and prototypical when the rubber meets the road.  I work with some of the most incredible men and women.

This is what cops do, my friends. We aren’t just there when it hits the fan. We are there for each other over the long haul.  I am proud to be a cop. I’m proud of the men and women with whom I serve.

When we are so close to tragedy, be it on the periphery or directly involved, it affects us.  We may not know it.  It may manifest in different ways for different people.  I learned a long time ago from growing up in a civil service family that bottling emotion doesn’t do any good.  It’s imperative to talk with someone.

I’m lucky enough to have a veritable multitude of people to rely on.  First and foremost, I’ve got God.  A close second is the Wife.  Both of my folks have been privy to many a tale.  Finally, there’s you.

Yes, you.

You are part of my catharsis.  When I posted on Facebook and tweeted, “I need immediate prayer for a CHP officer shot,” I was inundated with supportive responses.  LEOs and First Responders don’t always have time to deal with their emotions when it’s convenient.  It’s all about compartmentalizing and getting the job done.  I said to myself numerous times today, “Not time yet” when I felt the tears well up.  The job wasn’t done.

Now, my part of the job is done for today.  I cried when I walked in my home to the Wife’s loving embrace.  I made calls that needed to be made and checked on my partners that needed checking on.  I sat down to write this post to exorcise the demons of hatred, animosity, confusion and rage.

I’ve already thanked the specific people in my life directly, but I wanted to reach out to you to let you know you aren’t just reading this silly little blog and getting the occasional chuckle.  You have impacted me.  You have propped me up when I needed support.

Please continue to keep all the involved officers in your prayers as well as their families and co-workers.  The California Highway Patrol and surrounding jurisdictions are already back on duty keeping a watchful eye out for you.  To protect you.  To serve you.

Because that’s what we do.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

53 thoughts on “11-99 Officer Down

  1. I’m not all that religious, but I immediately stopped and said a prayer for the officer and his familty as soon as I heard this morning. You’re a good man, MC. Thank you for all that you and your brothers and sisters do for us..

  2. Hang in there, MC. You did a great thing today, staying with the injured officer and by helping out where ever you could. Your actions speak louder than anything you could say.

    Hug your family tight – my family and I are thinking about you all.

  3. Such a horrible tragedy in our neighboring county. My heart goes out to his wife, 4 kids, friends and brothers.

  4. i’ve heard Officer down put out once before here when on shift…it is the worst feeling anyone in law enforcement can hear, and knowing i was too far away to be the first on scene was even worse.
    You did all you could MC and then some, you helped a brother in blue to the best of your abilities. i will be keeping you and the injured officer in my thoughts, stay strong and keep safe…

  5. Prayer reaches further than any one of can dream. Bless you, your colleagues, your family, and the healing from today. It’s a honour to pray alongside you and for you.

    Get rest, brother.

  6. Hubby and I read this tonight. You, my brother in Christ, plant seeds when no one is looking. We appreciate you and all the men and women ‘already back at work’. Prayers for a restful night and healing all over the place. Much, much love.

  7. Thanks for being there for your brother, Motor. And most of all, thanks for being there for US.

    May God keep you and your brothers and sisters safe, and may He bring comfort to the fallen Hero’s family and friends.

    Good bless you and all that you do.

  8. Working just down the freeway from where this terrible incident took place, word spread quickly of what was transpiring. The CHP officers in our area were visibly shaken by what had happened. I know they wanted to be right where you found yourself, holding tightly to that hand of the injured officer, willing him to live, and in some way letting him know he wasn’t alone. All of us emergency response workers; police, fire, EMS and all the others, share in this pain, and will come together to show support in any way we can.

    Oh, and by the way… how are you doing? How can we help YOU get through this?

    You know we’re here for you.

    Mike

  9. MC,
    You did exactly what you were supposed to do…to serve. That’s what servants do You served and took care of the needs of a brother officer who so desperately needed it. That’s what any of us who wear, or have worn the badge and the uniform would do…serve. And you serve in any way you can. In this case, you held onto his hand, and in that moment gave the very best you had to give. And God will honor that…because He only asks of us, “What do you have?” And all of us have something to offer…in this case it was the touch of another human being. Thank you for being there and may the Lord bless you with the peace that surpasses understanding.
    Alex “The Padre” Gonzalez, Ret. CHP Sgt/Chaplain CAHP

  10. There are just no words to describe the emotions I felt as I read your post. You see, not only am I a sister in blue of a neighboring city but almost 3 yrs ago my hubby took the oath as well. What an interesting role I play being both cop and wife of a cop. I don’t worry too much about my safety because I know the training me and my coworkers receive…but I worry about my husband regularly. As a fellow cop, I thank you for being there without question and doing what we do. As a wife, I thank you for holding his hand and being a sense of calm in such a horrific time. Thank you for sharing your experience with others. Be safe and Godspeed brother.

  11. I do not know you but I appreciate that you were there to hold onto one of your fellow brothers in a time of need. Thank you for being so honest with your emotions. You are truly a HERO in all that you do.

    My prayers are with your fallen brother & his family & for you & all your other brothers & sister as they continue to protect us.

    Words can not express my graditutde for the lives that you protect everyday! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  12. MC,

    I read your post and said prayers for the wounded Officer, his family both his blood family and his LEO, Fire and EMS family as well. As first responders, you’re in a precarious position. God Bless You for what you did today, and what you do everyday. Thank you for becoming a Police Officer and for protecting your community.

  13. Well said brother. Thanks for being there and doing the good work. I pray that you will feel the peace that passes all understanding in this time of need.

  14. Thanks for sharing such a personal experience. My continued prayers to everyone involved and especially to your family as you make sense of this tragedy. The thing that struck me as I read this is that everyone of you will put that uniform on again today and be ready to do it again. And for that there are no words that express the gratitude.

  15. Your blog brought tears to my eyes as I read your humbling words. Our prayers are with you, the force and the officer who now battles for his life. We thank you for your dedication to the department and the people who need you out there keeping us safe. We honor you and hope you know your family of badges daily safety is in our prayers.

  16. My prayers are with you and the officer. I cannot imagine what it’s like to be a police officer and putting your life on the line when you go to work. Please know that you are all appreciated for your dedication to serve and protect.

  17. As the wife of a CHP it’s like a punch to the sternum every time I hear of an officer wounded or killed in action. Thank you for this very poignant insight into the world of police officers. I wish more of the public were able to understand, or be willing to understand, the men and women behind the uniform are just that – men and women. They work a thankless job and are in danger every day. They have families, they are friends, they are people. And the vast majority of the men and women in law enforcement are exceptional individuals and create the most amazing and caring “work family”.

    Many, many prayers for this officer and for all of our LEOs out there.

  18. Thanks brother…

    …for the help, for the care, for the effort, for the perspective…

    …for the truth…

    (and for taking care of yourself and your family, as an example for us. I had a great visit with my wife after this and The Gap, and shed a few tears after reading the Padre’s response)

    See ya out there!

  19. My thoughts and prayers to the officers and family this year has been full of so much tragedy for law enforcement.

  20. That’s a sad story. I can hardly believe that a CHP officer is shot by useless citizen. People must know that the job of the CHP officer is not easy. I have a peace of mind whenever I see a CHP in the freeway because I know for sure that I am protected against bad drivers. I heartily appreciate all the CHP officers for our daily protection. Thank you and God bless all the CHP officers and their families.

  21. I read your post and it brought tears in my eyes. Thank you for everything you all do for us and our families.
    My thoughts and prayers goes out to the officer and his family. God bless!

  22. Every time a tragedy like this happens my husband and I discuss every detail we have learned. Being married to a police officer during his 23 years of service I know he needs this discussion so as to figure out why it happened so that he can avoid whatever mistake was made by the victim officer. I know he needs to do this so that he can go back to work the next day. Sometimes, like yesterday, there was no mistake made, no lesson to be learned, it just happened. These senseless losses cut deep into your gut because you cannot tell yourself, I would have done this or that and made it home safely. Too many times we have held each other and cried. He reassures me that he will always be safe, always come home, but we both know that may not be true. But if we were to dwell on that fact and the inherrent danger that all peace officers face day in and out, I just don’t think I would have let him leave the house. I am forever thankful that he retired, relatively young and healthy. I am thankful that he loved that job and served well. I am thankful for the brotherhood/sisterhood of officers that kept watch over him, for me, every shift. I know that our son, who is also an officer, is being watched over as well. But as we discussed the events yesterday, when we cried for the loss of a good man, we worry about his next car stop or domestic dispute and pray he will make it home safely every night. I pray for the officer’s family, friends, fellow officers that they find comfort in his memory and each other. Kenyon is in a better place! Thank you for the opportunity to express my heart. Bless you!

  23. I was there as well at the scene.. A horrific incident. Immediately after hearing it dispatched, I felt as if I swallowed a brick and some one kicked me in the stomach after — this sensation continued the whole time and for awhile after it was all over. I’ve never seen such emotion by fellow responders.. so much adrenaline, so much fear and anger and disbelief.

    God bless officer Youngstrom, his family, and every police officer, paramedic, firefighter, EMT and first responder that was there at the scene, and every one that was not. This world is a better place and a safer place thanks to people like Officer Youngstrom.

  24. MC – I’ve lurked here for a couple of years, this is my first time posting a response. I just wanted to say keep your head up and know that your brothers in blue in Texas are praying for you and yours.

  25. From a former front line and spec ops soldier I can relate to what you are feeling right now. Itis a terrible feeling and I KNOW it hurts. This is normal! If I can offer any helping words it would be this, you did your job at the highest level today and that is all that any officer, first responder, or soldier would ask of you in their time of need. No one is a superhero and no one can change what has happened, all we can do is learn and improve after every incident because this will NOT be the last time that this will occur. We will all have the officer and his family in our prayers, but we will also never forget that the job never rests. I applaud and thank you for your actions today ( along with all first responders). As a future Chiropractor I will aim to support all first responders in my practice for this very reason…. The job NEVER rests. Thank you!

  26. whew! i cried when i read this, but it has been a crying time here…my heart just breaks for this officer and his family. my oldest son is a “chippy”. …….and i would like him to quit today, tomorrow would be okay too…….yesterday would have been better……….but he loves his job. .

    sigh.

    .thank you for everything you do, every day that you go into the street and try to make it all good for all of us, stay safe!

  27. For several years now, I’ve made a point of waving to the good officers here in Medford, Oregon. Your blog today made me extra glad I do that. May God be forever inundated with the prayers that flow for our officers, fire, medical, and military hereos! God bless you and keep you safe!

  28. I don’t know you nor did I know officer Youngstrom but I have several friends who work in law enforcement. We have all been following along, posting on our FB pages any updates, and my heart sank when I saw this morning’s update. I didn’t know him but he was a human being like the rest of us and it just seems to have affected me greatly, thinking of his wife and children left behind. It sucks… I know not really grand prose but it just does. I wish I had the power to right the wrong and bring him back to his family but I don’t. The most I can do, all of us can do, is to reach out in some way, be it prayer, a donation to his memorial fund (Wells Fargo), thoughts for all involved, and sharing the knowledge that none of us are alone in this Life and road that we travel. Godspeed to Officer Youngstrom and sending healing thoughts and energy to everyone who’s life he touched for peace in your hearts.

  29. I spent 30 years on the patrol. was around for the Newhall incident my first week.my first accident ,a fatal involving a 3year old girl chasing a ball,and on and on.I never cried .this week I cried a lot.I don’t know why this event was so traumatizing.I don’t pray,but I did after reading this account and all the responses.Maybe its because my daughter is just starting her chp voyage.Stay safe all of you.

  30. Your blog brought tears to my eyes. This is truly a very sad event for many people. I am sorry that you had to see what you saw but I am very glad that you were there to hold his hand as I am sure his family would be glad to know that someone was holding his hand. Please take care of yourself and continue to vent and get your emotions and feelings out. Be there for your coworkers and lend an empythetic ear to them. Thank you for what you do for the community where you work and thank you for what you did for Officer Youngstrom.

  31. Reading things like this makes me want to do the job even more. I will pray for him and his family. The gold star that every officer puts on means so much the good people, but to the s**t bags out there, it is just a target.

  32. Thank you for sharing this. My husband is also CHP and this tragic event has me thinking about him more every time he walks out the door and says good bye. We are so very saddened by the loss of another officer and thank Officer Youngstrom and his family for this ultimate sacrifice. Not the kind of thank you I like to give. Wish I was thanking him for something else. Like assisting me on the highway or helping me with directions. I am just was so upset thinking the Officer, just out on another day of duty. But that day was no regular day on his beat. I can’t stop thinking about his wife and children and pray for their terrible loss. To all of law enforcement families…and specifically those of you that put on those uniforms Be Safe. You are loved and appreciated.

  33. MC – I met you at the tail end of the debriefing last Friday. After talking to you for just a few minutes, it makes your perspective even more therapeutic for me after the role I played in this tragedy. Though I was not physically there, I was still directly involved and deeply affected. Thank you once again.

  34. As a proud LEOW I find it fitting that this “Thank You” comes to you the week of National Tell a Police Officer “Thank You” Day. Know that you are not alone in your feelings of sorrow, or joy. Hug yours ever close and provide peace where you can. You are doing amazing things by simply being yourself. Continued prayers to ALL of our LEO family…

  35. Wow – so grateful to have people like you protecting us. Prayers to everyone out – you are truly appreciate. I pray for this officer and his family.

  36. MC,

    Reading what you wrote brings a tear (or two) to my eyes. Knowing that you were there for a fellow Officer says a lot. When you heard the dreaded call on the radio, even if you didn’t know it at the time, you had the strength and the courage of the whole Department with you. Thank you for your “CAN DO” attitude. Pass on my thanks to any and all that were at the scene.

  37. All people that are there to protect us should be held high. They have chosen to do what many of us cannot do. I lived in Richmond once where it was good just to wake up in the morning. Its even worse now. A man shotting at a policeman just because he walked up to the car ? What does that say about the people in this country.? I have relatives in another country and I am ashamed that they have to hear about this. PLEASE LET THINGS GET BETTER AND NOT WORSE!!!!!

  38. Words can’t express the feelings elicited by reading such an eloquently articulate statement. The first thing I told my husband when I got home after the shooting was that I can’t explain the connection between officers at a department, and the sheer feeling of losing a brother in law enforcement. Sometimes we know our car partners better than their spouses and parents. There is certainly something about this relationship that makes the pain of loss nearly unbearable.
    We will press on to serve the public, a black band always over our hearts in remembrance of those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice. For my own healing, I placed my old pair of Motorboots high atop Mt. Diablo with a photo and I visit monthly.

  39. Thank you so much for sharing your very personal side. My father and 3 of my brothers are in law enforcement and every day i worry about their safety. I thank God every day that he brings them back home to their wives and our family. I appreciate you and everything you and all your brothers and sisters in law enforcement do to protect total strangers just because thats what you do.
    I’m glad youre safe today and I’m safer because of you.

    Thank you

  40. Wow. Very well written and thank you for your perspective.
    There should be a code for “be safe out there” – I think there is but I can’t think of it. 10-…. ?

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