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.