In the movie, GLORY, Morgan Freeman admonishes his men to fight, and if necessary, die standing up while facing the enemy. These Civil War soldiers are the first African Americans to fight in the Civil War for their own freedom and the freedom of all American citizens in the future. These soldiers of the 54thRegiment were ready to step up and do their part even if it meant giving their life for the cause of freedom.By Elder Watts
I worked with a brave female police officer that adopted this same approach to enforcing the laws and keeping peace in her community. Colleen was respected and esteemed by her fellow officers. She wanted to make a difference in her community and was willing to put her life on the line and face the enemy every day. She never avoided conflict and was willing to pay whatever price was necessary to maintain peace and order in the community, which was a rare quality. She too would be called upon to contribute the ultimate sacrifice.
Some days I would visit with her while sitting in our patrol cars waiting for a 911 dispatch and marvel at her commitment to her family, her church and her work. She wasn’t a tough guy and didn’t approach the job that way. She stood for peace and diplomacy and tried to settle conflict at the lowest level of force. She was a pioneer in a male dominated occupation. She didn’t want to be coddled and she didn’t want to let someone else do her job to protect her. She always stepped up and did her part.
On Tuesday January 11, 1998 we were working adjoining patrol districts when a request for cover came over the radio to help a Marijuana Task Force Drug Team arrest a suspect who was believed to be destroying evidence while the drug enforcement officers were waiting for a search warrant to enter his house. This incident was occurring in an adjoining patrol district to hers, so she volunteered to assist.
When she and other cover officers arrived, the incident supervisor made the decision to kick in the door to prevent further destruction of evidence. Colleen was the first one through the door followed by three other officers. As they reached a second locked door the drug dealer fired a high powered semi-automatic weapon, using armor piercing ammunition, through the door killing Coleen, seriously injuring another officer, and wounding the supervisor. The supervisor fired multiple rounds at the suspect to give other cover officers time to remove the wounded officers outside the house and behind some cover. The drug dealer was seriously wounded, but still in possession of his weapon.
The officers at the scene called a code zero indicating a critical life threatening incident was occurring. As I arrived, I took up a position one house away to observe the north side and front of the drug dealer’s house. Ambulances arrived and the wounded officers were taken to the hospital. The suspect’s house was surrounded until a special weapons and extraction team could arrive with an armored vehicle.
It took a couple of hours but the suspect was arrested and taken to a nearby hospital for medical care. I then was given the assignment to guard the front of the residence to protect evidence, which I did for the next 7-8 hours. It was a sobering assignment as I protected the carnage of this scene.
Colleen was the first female police officer to die in the line of duty for our police department. I attended Colleen’s funeral at the Catholic Church and during mass thought to myself, “She truly was a pioneer and one ready to sacrifice to maintain and improve the quality of life for everyone. She faced the enemy standing up and was willing to enforce the laws so all could live in more peaceful neighborhoods.”
I thought of the parallels of the men of the 54th Regiment and their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the greater purposes of a free society. I felt Colleen gave her life for the greater cause of keeping our communities more livable and drug free. She will always be one of my heroes because she was willing to step up and give her life when called upon to do so.
The ultimate sacrifice given for others is the great sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He not only showed us and taught us how to live; he also died so that when we die, we will live again. I know that He lives and that He was resurrected, and because of His sacrifice, Colleen and all of our Father’s children on this earth will live again. This knowledge gives me comfort.
The Savior teaches us in John 15: 13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. We also can lay down our life one moment and one act at a time each day as we serve others. The love we share by giving service to others will bring peace into our lives and the lives of those we serve.
See his blog at: http://mormon-cop.blogspot.com/