Military and Police

Daughters of a Murdered Police Officer

From a widow of a murdered police officer, I want you to know something about my daughters. Charlie and I raised five children. Two of them are beautiful, smart girls—Holly and Aleena.

Growing up, my girls witnessed the way their father treated me. He was affectionate, gentle, and giving…but most of all, he always made sure I knew how much I was respected and loved. My daughters had their father’s attention and affection every day of their lives, up until the day he was killed in the line of duty. He never passed up an opportunity to just listen or play along with whatever shenanigans they planned. He was the first man they fell in love with and they will always miss him. He showed them the way they should be treated and gave them a sense of security.

Tarpon Springs, Florida police Officer Charlie Kondek embracing one of his daughters in a proverbial daddy/daughter moment. Officer Kondek was slain in the line of duty on December 21, 2014. (Credit: Teresa Kondek)

Being the daughter of a law enforcement officer taught them to be tough. They learned how to ignore the negativity their father’s career attracted. They had to avoid places and people that had their own opinions about law enforcement officers, and they accepted that because not everyone was meant to be an officer. But their father was, and it was his calling in life. Charlie was a great officer who loved to help people, and he was so respected in the community.

Unfortunately, after losing the most important man in their life, sitting through a funeral staring at a casket draped with an American flag, riding in a procession looking at hundreds of strangers holding signs, and speaking to the cop-killing criminal face to face during Charlie’s murder trial, they focus on things in life that you may not. Things like “What if I don’t get a tomorrow?” or “Is this what my dad would want for me?” So they tend to be a little more sentimental about things in life. Don’t mistake that for ignorance or anything else but an appreciation for being able to get up and live another day. My daughters were princesses to a man who is no longer here, and that will never be far from their mind.

(Credit: Teresa Kondek)

With that said, before you date a fallen officer’s daughter, my daughter, I think it’s only fair to tell you what’s always on my mind as the only parent they have left. Don’t ever think the presence of a male is missing in their life. Charlie may be gone but they have something huge in their life—it’s called a blue family. It’s an amazing family of strangers that pass this unexplainable bond from one generation to another without words. It’s a family and bond that I too will depend on when I’m no longer here to protect them.

Here’s the part that gives me peace and the part you’ll see if you chose to date my daughter. When Charlie was killed, they gained a nation full of uncles and aunts who stepped forward to fill in for their father in spaces that I couldn’t. They will always have their six. When my daughters hurt, they hurt…and so do I. So, basically, when you date a fallen officer’s daughter, you date them too. It’s their honor to protect the children of their fallen brother as their own, and me as his widow. Just keep that in mind when you look at her.

My daughters were taught to be respectful and honest. I expect the same from you.

Oh, and one more thing she was told by her father: she should always feel like the prettiest girl in the room. Always.

And if dating ever came to marriage, and for one of my daughters it did (cover photo), her father and I want this for you and our daughter. We want her to be the first thing you think about when you wake up. We want her to be the last one you talk to before you fall asleep. When bad things happen, we want her to be the one you confide in. When good things happen, we want her to be the first person you want to share it with. We want you to make her laugh when she wants to cry and never let her forget how important she is.

And because she is so familiar with loss, be the place she wants to be when she misses her father. Let her cry and have bad days. Just remember: she’d love the opportunity to call him and get the advice he used to give or be comforted just by the sound of his voice—that isn’t an option for her anymore and some days it’s absolutely heartbreaking to witness. I won’t need to remind you of that after the first time you see those days yourself.

For me, I just need you to be the man her father would be proud of. A man with whom he would be willing to share his daughter’s honor. A daughter that you can hug because he is no longer able to. Maybe hug her a little tighter for her father—just like I do.

Just remember, she loves a little deeper and she appreciates things in life that really matter. If you can do that, you’ll see how beautiful life can really be with her, even after so much loss.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Teresa Kondek

Teresa Kondek is a mother of five, writer, and an advocate for law enforcement. Teresa became a widow on December 21, 2014 when her husband, Officer Charles Kondek, Jr., was violently killed in the line of duty. After her loss, Teresa began working tirelessly with local, state, and elected officials to raise awareness and provide support for law enforcement families struggling with loss. While publicly sharing her grief to help others, Teresa became part of the C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors) Organization where she joined thousands of survivors nationwide trying to rebuild their lives. In 2016 she completed the Florida State University Certified Public Management program following her seventeen years serving the Pasco County Clerk and Comptroller’s Office as an Operations Supervisor.  In 2018 she completed the Victim Services Practitioner Designation program from the Florida Crime Prevention Training Institute through the Office of Attorney General.  Teresa is honored to support and honor those left behind, retired, and still serving. 

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