The day that badge is pinned on your chest, and you raise your right hand is the same day you sign that check.
It is a check written without a date, but the amount due is everything. It’s everything. It is your existence in this world. It is your tomorrow’s. It is your ability to watch your children grow and for you to grow old. It is the day when you walk out of your home, away from everything you love, away from everything you have and ever will have, and don’t come home.
Every one of us who has walked this path knows this day is possible. Every one of us knows that at any time throughout our career, a date can be placed on that check.
Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of us will make it through our careers without ever seeing that check again.
In my 19 years at Las Vegas Metro, I’ve been to 13 line-of-duty-death funerals. Each one is a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice brave men and women make every day to protect and serve others. Strangers. To serve a purpose larger than our self-interests.
This brings me to the point of this article. When the day comes that one of our brothers and sisters doesn’t walk back through their front door, it is our responsibility as a police agency to send them to their eternal home with grace and class.
On October 28, 2022, I stood in the parking lot of Central Church for Officer Truong Thai’s funeral. As always, it was impressive to see police agencies from throughout the United States represent and pay respect to a fellow officer who has sacrificed everything.
The one consistent thing I observed was that every law enforcement officer who showed up was dressed in their formal or dress uniforms.
Several years ago, Las Vegas Metro began instructing officers of lower rank to wear the “uniform of the day” to line-of-duty-death funerals. Command staff and the deceased officer(s) squad were allowed to wear dress uniforms.
This is a ridiculous concept. One of our cops is murdered/killed in the line of duty, and our very own officers are made to wear the standard uniform of the day while officers from NYPD, as well as other agencies, walk past us wearing a formal dress uniform.
Not only is it ridiculous, but it is embarrassing. I completely understand the Department no longer issues dress hats and cap pieces. Having said that, ensuring each officer has a formal dress shirt and tie is not an outlandish concept.
Every police graduation I have attended recently consisted of newly minted police officers wearing a dress shirt and tie.
If wearing a dress shirt and tie is good enough for an academy graduation, then it sure as hell should be good enough for a funeral.
In no way is this intended to bash the Department. On the contrary, I believe this Department does an incredible job of honoring our cops who died in the line of duty. From the Honor Guard members to the buy-in from our community, we truly do a good job of honoring one’s life.
Having said that, for an agency that is hypersensitive about optics, it is completely tone-deaf for the entire command staff to walk past hundreds of rank-and-file officers who are wearing the uniform of the day while they are dressed in their formal uniforms. It sends the wrong message to the troops, and it looks unprofessional at best.
In January 2023, Sheriff McMahill will take office and construct his command staff. I hope that during his terms as sheriff, he does not have to plan a line-of-duty-death funeral. But in the event that he does, I humbly request that he considers these thoughts prior to issuing an order of which uniform to wear.
At the end of the day, when we are showing up to bury one of our own, we should put on our Sunday best.
For those men and women out there pushing a sled, you are appreciated. You have the most dangerous, thankless job in this Department. Stay safe, look out for one another and get home.