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Grieving for Two Slain JPD Officers

My community is grieving the loss of two slain police officers and one wounded police officer who were all shot in a gun fight on March 8th. Both funerals were last week, and the surviving officer was finally released from the hospital a few days ago.

Everyone I know is still experiencing shock and grief over the ordeal. It never should have happened. The suspect shot three police officers, stole two cars, damaged a lot of property, instigated whatever disturbance resulted in the police being called in the first place, and put thousands of us in a state of mourning.

My husband was involved with both funerals, attending the first one and directing traffic for the second one. In addition to the emotional stress of bidding a final farewell to those who gave their lives protecting us, one of whom was his friend, he had a crazy work schedule last week. I knew he would need me, so that cemented my decision to stay home on Friday where I could offer him the most support.

He didn’t ask me to accompany him to either funeral, and I didn’t ask to go. I attended an officer’s funeral with him back in 2004, and it was one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve ever done. That officer was also killed in the line of duty.

Friday is one of my regular days off work, and I usually run all of my errands that day. Doctor appointments, grocery shopping, trips to the Post Office, and anything else that needs done on a weekday goes on my Friday list. Not this time. I felt it would be best to stay home and offer what support I could to my husband.

I woke up at my usual time and took a long hot shower to start my day. I put on my blue maxi dress and favorite flipflops while the cold rain drizzled consistently. I baked some bread, made a pot of spaghetti for my husband’s dinner, and caught up on my laundry. I stayed inside all day. I didn’t even walk out to my mailbox. I needed that time to myself, and my husband needed that hearty meal.

Jim arrived home from the funeral an hour before he had to be at work. He was soaked to the skin and freezing from standing out in the rain for 4 1/2 hours. Temperatures were in the forties with persistent rain that just wouldn’t let up. I washed his wet uniform while he filled his belly with homemade hot food and talked to me about things. He went to work at 6:00 p.m. Friday night and got off work at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

Needless to say, he was exhausted when he finally stumbled into the bedroom as I was getting ready to leave to meet my mom and sister for our monthly Sam’s shopping trip Saturday morning around 7:00 a.m. I tucked him in, kissed his cheek, and left the house so he could have peace and quiet to sleep.

It’s easy to take those who protect us for granted and not see them as individual human beings who have lives and families of their own. Though I don’t live in Joplin, I work, shop, eat, and play there. I consider myself part of the Joplin community.

I’m proud of the support shown to the Joplin Police Department over the past couple of weeks. Our local media has been quite supportive, showing the funerals on their websites for those who couldn’t attend. There are yard signs throughout the city proclaiming support for JPD. Hundreds of officers from police departments across the country attended the funerals in a show of solidarity. People lined the roads of the funeral procession route in an effort show appreciation and love for both officers. I hope the support continues and people remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Rest in peace Corporal Ben Cooper and Officer Jake Reed. I hope you heal quickly Officer Rick Hirshey.

Thank you to all who keep us safe – police, fire, EMT, first responders, etc. You have my gratitude and respect.

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