Standing in the Gap

Yesterday was a tragic day for the California Highway Patrol.  That can’t be argued.  Situations like this send out ripple effects.  It was tragic for many of us that responded, but certainly less so than those that know Ofr. Youngstrom (whose identity has officially been released by CHP) directly.  The ripple continues out to our family members.

Hell, based on the flood of comments on the blog and my facebook page, the ripples extend across the world.  I simply don’t have the words to tell you how that makes me feel.

But today isn’t about how I feel.

Today I want to briefly explain more about the kinds of people that keep the wolf away from your door.  I don’t know if you are aware or not, but CHP protocol dictates that if one of their own is wounded, a fellow member of the CHP will not leave that officer’s side.

Can you imagine that?

That is the love and dedication that the California Highway Patrol has for their own.  But, it goes beyond that.  Have you ever wondered when you see a three-mile long procession full of officers who is keeping watch?  When it becomes necessary for practically an entire department to leave work to attend services for a fallen officer, the rest of the LEO community steps in and covers their beats for them.

We stand in the gap.

And we’re not the the only ones that stand in the gap.  The Wife has done/is doing it for me.

When I got home last night, I showed the Wife the video of my response.  There’s nothing on there but me whipping in and out of traffic, but sometimes it’s cool to watch.  When the video showed me arriving on scene, the Wife said I physically shuddered as I was watching it.  I don’t think I realized it.

I was told by the Powers That Be that I was welcome to take today off to decompress and spend time with the family after being so close to tragedy.  “Thanks, but I’m good.  I’ll be in tomorrow,” is what I said.  I didn’t really want to let the other guys on my shift down by not being at work.

Then, the Wife and I started talking.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I hadn’t stopped to think about how this would effect her.  Ofr. Youngstrom conducted a stop I’ve conducted countless times.  There is no reason that couldn’t have been me.  I could see the fear and anxiety in her eyes and I’m sure they were reflected in mine.

I argued that Thursday isn’t going to be any less dangerous than Wednesday.  She agreed with the statement, but countered with “you need to be home and do something that makes you smile and reminds you about the important things in your life.”

Hard to argue.

Consequently, my partners are standing in the gap for me today, as well.  I decided she was right and PTB confirmed the offer was still “standing tall”.

You can rest assured that even though CHP officers are tending to their comrade and a handful of other officers are taking a day to decompress/recoup/reassess/insert term here, that someone with a badge, a gun, and a strong will are still standing in the gap and keep that wolf away from your door.

I’m going to play with my kids today.  I’m going to see the Wife’s gorgeous smile and twinkle in her eye as she watches us and doesn’t think I see her.  I’m going to pray.  I’m going to thank God for my partners and for you…because, believe it or not, you’ve stood in the gap for me, too.

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

16 thoughts on “Standing in the Gap

  1. I never know what to say when you post about the dangers and losses you face as a law enforcement officer, because I don’t want to insult you and your colleagues by presuming to claim that I know how you feel and what you’re going through.

    But I do want to say that I deeply admire all law enforcement officers for the sacrifices you make every day, and for risking so much, from misunderstanding to hatred to injury to death, to protect us.

    And while this may seem trivial by comparison, I admire you personally even more for not shutting out the people you care about – first and foremost your wife. Again, I’ve never been, or been in a relationship with, a LEO and don’t claim to understand everything it entails, but I do know that whatever you do and whoever you are, your relationships can only succeed if you are honest with your loved ones and willing to both give and receive respect and support. In addition to everything else you do and blog about, you and the Wife are fantastic role models for how to love, respect, and honor your loved ones.

    Thanks.

  2. Well said, MotorCop. We’re all in this together, and we all have our roles. The thoughts about your wife are awesome – because it does affect us as spouses. It reminds us of the risks of not only our husbands, but also of the friends and Blue and Gold Family members that we care so much about. Be safe out there. And thanks for keeping the wolves away.

  3. MC, 11 days ago I revisited the place where my beat partner and friend Jose Cisneros was killed in the line of duty. It was the 27th anniversary of his passing. It never seems to change. Jose was shot in the head by a couple young men on a crime spree. Jose was investigating a littering call. Since that day I have kept in contact with his family. When his daughter started competing in beauty contests, I hit up the DSA (deputy sheriff’s association) to pay for her dresses. Sometimes I just hit them up to give her something for the sake of giving it to the family. Every time I dropped the check off at their house, the family freaked out. It was always in God’s perfect timing. Years later Jose’s daughter asked me if I could be present at her badge pining from her graduating the academy and taking a job at Sac. PD. My uniform was NOT in order. It had tears covering the front of it.
    STANDING IN THE GAP!
    God Bless
    Jerry (Chach) Quinn
    Retired Solano County Sheriff’s Deputy

  4. Great post and I’m glad you are taking care of yourself. Having known Kenyon and my husband being a co-worker it’s been a difficult 24 hours. My husband keeps asking me if “I’m okay?”. I love him for that and am thankful that we both have a deep understanding of how each one of us needs to cope with this type of tragedy and loss. Thank you for being there yesterday for Kenyon.

  5. MC, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your actions Tuesday. I’m struggling with these traffic events. I met Kenyon once about a year and a half ago. It was brief but I still remember him. We have lost many officer while I had been on the job. And it never gets easier. I to think about how that is a stop we have all made a million times. Why wasn’t it me out there? It’s odd how life works. I my heart breaks for the wife and four children he leves behind. Now we will lift ten up and never let them forget there daddy was a hero. And I pray for the officer that was first on scene and engaged the suspect. I thank god or his actions and for him to have peace. Thank you again for sharing your experience that day. Stay safe brother.

  6. Thanks for the share bro. Even being now out of the ‘brotherhood’, I feel that same uneasy feeling anytime I hear these things. Especially when someone I know has a measure of involvement. It instantly took me mentally back to the night of April 24. 2007 when I responded off duty to my phone blowing up. The guy who worked my exact beat the shift after mine was killed on a suspicious person call at the local sh*tbag motel. The fact that that could have by all means been me a few hours earlier was not lost.

    When agencies experience a LODD, even if its not your same agency, it is all felt. Been there too in 2011. Please keep an eye on any of those who may be affected but don’t speak about it. And keep the communication with the wife as well. My (now ex) wife and I had a lot of convo going, and support for each other going.. (she was in the LEO biz too) and it helped. Honestly, it affects the spouses too. Keep that convo going. and encourage your brothers to keep the dialogue with their significant others going to discuss, learn, and remain close.

    Here for you buddy.

  7. Although now our hearts are full of sadness , as the wife of an officer the loss of one of our own only makes the dangers of the job more apparent, that could have been my husband/wife but a long time ago a very wise police widow told me I should use these terrible losses to remember to put the effort fourth so that if that call ever came and it was my husband I would have no regrets. No matter were I am or what I’m doing I stop to call or text my husband to say I love you before his watch, I remember to bite my tongue when he’s on duty no argument is worth the distraction that could take his life or worse a fellow officers. Our family of blue will unite and survive this too. Many prayers to you!

  8. Thank you for keeping the gap secured. As a retired military member your words are everlasting to how anyone in service to their country or community feel when there is a loss of a comrade.

  9. This site and your writings have really helped me get through these past few days. I saw the noble honor of my husband in “11-99 Officer Down” and I was “the wife having a hard time coping” in this article. This hit so close to home…literally, living 4 miles down the freeway in Danville and being the wife of a CHP Officer. As a newlywed this really hit me harder than I expected. It made it all real and put it in perspective. At first I thought it was having a false security for his safety, thinking he was pretty safe having his post at one of the scales. What I realize now is that the trauma of this for me has more to do with our family’s loss and that poor wife and his children. I couldn’t have gotten through this without some of the other wives in the community. My civilian friends/wives just didn’t understand the stress and worry when something like this happens. They were trying to be comforting, but I heard things such as, “Yeah, I worry about my husband too everyday, because he works in a dangerous area.” or “It shows you that anything could happen to our loved ones when they head off for their jobs.”
    I recently joined CHP wives on Face Book and immediately got the support I needed. In the face of this tragedy it has shown me how our CHP family bonds together and I am honored to be called a Chippy Wife . Thank you so much.

  10. MC again I’m so proud of you….your ability to write amazes me….this was very well said and I’m so thankful that you could take time to be with your beautiful family ❤❤❤❤

  11. Your post and the comments from others are so powerful. It takes the strength of the badge to heal the hearts and minds of those that put forth all they could on that fateful day. I love and support my husband who did all he could that day…responding within minutes to the dreadful 11-99 call. I know they’ll all heal, grow and bond from this experience. Yesterday was a beautiful start to that process. It was nice to see the inter-agency connections made and sit by you, MC, at Ofc Youngstrom’s services.

    Thank you, MC, for a gift beyond monetary value…words from the heart.

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