Nov 29, 2009

Lakewood Shooting

I'm on duty this morning in Lakewood, Washington. It's been a difficult day and I'm only a few hours into the shift. Sundays are usually calm. We wash the rigs, have breakfast, and find a place that has a TV to catch some of the football action. We might run a few calls, but it's usually a laid back pace on Sunday. But not this Sunday.

A few minutes after I arrived, the acting supervisor greeted me with his prediction - "Dave, it's gonna be a crazy day." While doing rig check, I noticed there was a lot of traffic on the fire radios. We took a call with engine 2 for seizures, but got cancelled my a medic unit already on scene. A few minutes later, we were on our way for an emergency cath lab transfer. Our patient was on a couple of drips with a 90% occlusion of the right coronary atrery. We loaded him and headed for the rig. As we went by the ER waiting room, I glanced at the TV and saw the headline..."Four police officers shot and killed in Lakewood". A sick feeling came over me. Then I thought - "What the hell is going on around here?" It was only days ago when a Seattle police officer was shot in his police cruiser. Now this.

Before I could process the shooting, we had to take care of our patient. As we approached our destination, I asked if I could pray with him. It was hard to get the words out but I awkwardly blurted out something and he said 'sure', so I prayed with him. We gowned up and headed for the cath lab and transferred him to the procedure table. After we got the gear put away, we headed for the ER break room, we joined the folks gathered around the TV. As we watched the scene unfold we talked about what would make someone want to target a group of cops at a coffee shop. It's hard to understand the workings of a criminal mind.

I wondered if there might be a group of men with the same agenda; men who believe they can somehow eliminate the police in our area. The man arrested in the Seattle shooting seems to have had this plan in mind. That's a frightening thought. How are police (and public servants in general) supposed to guard against such plans?

I moved to the Puget Sound area in 1995. I worked in several big cities prior, including Nashville and Milwaukee. I've had a lot of contact with law enforcement during my career. Police and fire departments are all a little different. The differences flow out of what kind of attitudes and behaviors the Chief officers tolerate and encourage. I have to say this about the police in Pierce county and the cities of Lakewood and Tacoma; I've never witnessed a single case of excessive use of force by any of the cops I've met. They have great attitudes and are a pleasure to work with. I'm amazed at the crap they have to put up with and their level of professionalism and self-control.

If you've been around for a while, you've probably seen a few episodes of "Cops". Many of them were filmed in Lakewood, Parkland and Spanaway. I don't know if any of the officers who died were on the show. No names have been released yet. But the show gives examples of the kind of lawlessness these officers were trying to protect us from. Today, four of them paid the ultimate price to keep us safe. I've often think about the things that put me in danger me at work. There aren't many. I shiver at the thought of what it must be like working as a cop. Never knowing if the next traffic stop will be someone with gun who knows how to use it. I could never do it, but I'm grateful for men and women who do.

I hope the shooter is found. I'd ask you'll join me in prayer for the friends and families of the fallen officers and pray for the safety of  their co-workers. I found an encouraging message this morning. My Google homepage has a daily bible verse below the news and weather forecast. Here's the verse for today: "Be sure of this, the wicked will not go unpunished, but the righteous will go free." (Prov. 11:21)

One final's ironic that such wickedness comes on the eve of another great move of God. As we gather in mourning for our fallen brothers, God is about to bring an outpouring to this very same place. It's almost here. Truly we can say, "where sin abounds, grace abounds much more".