As iconic bagpipes sounded at one of the latest police funerals for law enforcement officers, Highlands County, Florida sheriff’s Deputy William Gentry, badge #2247, was eulogized for his selfless service. In a locale called Lake Placid, not so placid was the news that a police warrior was felled by gunfire on May 8, 2018. Deputy Gentry was shot and killed during an interview with a man suspected of killing a neighbor’s cat.
At his funeral service today, the distinct 21-gun salute prefaced the “final call” for Deputy Gentry. Police dispatchers beckoned him via police radio, but the only response was the silence of mortality. Instead, a bugler wafted the air with distinctly somber sounds of Taps. In customary fashion, Deputy Gentry’s name will be etched into the granite walls of local and national police memorial sites commemorating cops who took an oath, filled it gallantly, yet didn’t make it home.
Those last few words symbolize why people from across the globe traverse to D.C. every mid-May and occupy our nation’s capitol to attend events, to listen to commemorative speeches, and to support surviving loved ones. National Police Week at the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial commenced with a candlelight vigil on May 13, 2018 and spans throughout the week with a schedule of other events.
In that light, The White House will be bathed in blue, washing-over half-mast Old Glory on the front lawn.
Today’s memorial context contained a proclamation authorized by President Donald Trump in which he stated, “…we acknowledge the incredible service and sacrifices law enforcement personnel make each day for their fellow Americans. The brave men and women of our Nation’s law enforcement work long hours, often in dangerous situations, to protect our lives, liberty, and property. We also take this opportunity to pay tribute to law enforcement personnel who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty. We will never forget their courage.”
Indeed, not all police officers perish during the course of life-threatening duty. Some survive street-borne battles without a scratch. Still others are permanently maimed and disabled for their remaining lifespan. We continue to see exhibitions of this when news releases report the latest deaths after long agony of first responders who raced to the Twin Towers on 9/11/01. As well, some cops take a bullet and live to tell about it with irrevocable tales of tragic circumstances.
Steven McDonald is pictured with his only child, Connor, who was born just months after the Central Park shooting in 1986. Connor would later follow him into the NYPD in 2010. Conor McDonald, left, kisses his father Steven after being promoted to detective on Jan. 28, 2016. pic.twitter.com/VbO6BXWlvb
— Back The Blue 🚓 (@BackThePolice) May 12, 2018
National Blue Alert Network
In his proclamation, President Trump addressed the newly-devised police protections’ system called the National Blue Alert Network. The inherent purpose of Blue Alert is exactly as its name implies: to add extra layers of warnings to police officers that dangerous individuals and/or circumstances exist; basically, flagging cop killers. The sharing of intelligence serves to equip cops with imperative information so as to preclude perilous situations by acute awareness of players in the playing field who have no compunction of causing them harm.
Even in pre-election months, President Trump made it clear that his devotion to national security and law enforcement practitioners will have his vested support and back-up. To that end, his Department of Justice and other federal cabinets congealed to form the Blue Alert Network. As President Trump boasted, “Department of Justice and the Federal Communications commission worked together to establish a dedicated Emergency Alert System event code. This code facilitates rapid dissemination of critical information to law enforcement agencies and the public about violent offenders who have killed, seriously injured, or who pose an imminent threat to law enforcement officers.”
That’s a boast anyone can get behind. He continued, “The exceptional men and women of law enforcement work every day to protect our lives, and this code helps us protect theirs.”
The Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office reported, “Blue Alerts can be transmitted via wireless devices and through the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The National Blue Alert Network works to encourage, enhance, and integrate Blue Alert plans throughout the United States.” So, it is only as good as it is widespread. Let’s hope that is far and wide.
Sanctity of Public Safety
In addition to the Blue Alert Network being elucidated in his proclamation, President Trump also heralded the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 which he signed into law a few months ago. Without expounding on yet another somber factor among law enforcement officials, namely suicide, the Act “helps provide police officers the resources they need to deal with job stress and trauma associated with their demanding career field.”
As memorial plans transpire and recognition is paid to national warriors who assumed the role of protector by laying down their lives for others, blue hues serve as tacit acknowledgment of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and are not coming home.
Like many other law enforcement entities and private properties paying respects to the fallen, the nation’s capitol beacon will shine blue tonight. As President Trump said, “In humble appreciation of our hardworking law enforcement officers, Melania and I will light the White House in blue May 15.”