2013 National Police Week

In May of 2013, the Mesa Police Association sent seven of our members to Washington DC to attend the National Police Week, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial service. President Russell, Treasurer Cutler, Officer Harris, and Officer Figueroa attended. Members Sergeant Schmidt, Detective Pezzelle, and Detective Garcia also attended, as they were nominated for the prestigious Top Cops award, and were recognized for a critical incident they were involved in. During this time, our members met with several members of the Legislature from Arizona, including Senator McCain, Senator Flake, Congressman Salmon, and Representative Gosar. Our members also met with Mesa Police Chief Milstead and members of the Mesa Police Honor Guard throughout the week.

 

Officer Harris wrote the following about his experience:

 

My name is Court Harris.  I work patrol out in Superstition.  I have   been with The Mesa Police Department for two years.   Prior to joining MPD, I worked for the Seattle Police Department for nine years. 

This past May I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. with The MPA for National Police Week. I traveled with MPA President, Ryan Russell, Treasurer, Jeff Cutler and Officer Austin Figueroa.  Although I anticipated visiting the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial would an emotional experience, I had no idea how profoundly poignant this event would be.

On October 31, 2009 my good friend and squad mate, Tim Brenton, was ambushed, shot and killed while we were working together in Seattle’s Central District.  Sadly, three weeks later, four officers in Lakewood, Washington were executed as they sat in a coffee shop, logging on to their computers, at the beginning their shift.  I was very in involved in the lethal apprehension of the suspect in that incident.

My friend Tim was a tremendous human being.  As a police officer, he was “the guy” everyone wants to work with.  He was incredibly smart, competent and approached police work with a balance of dedication and humor.  Tim made going to work fun and I am proud and fortunate that I had the opportunity to spend nearly a decade with him on the streets of Seattle.

More importantly, Tim was a husband and father.  His number one priority was his family:  wife, daughter and son.  On October 31, 2009, I remember standing in Tim’s living room having to inform his wife of Tim’s death while his two children lay sleeping upstairs.  The gravity of our job as a police officer hit home like a sledge hammer.

Many officer funerals followed during the holidays of 2009.

I did not have the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. in 2010 representing the Seattle Police Department, and my friend, when Tim was added to the Wall of Honor.

Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the Mesa Police Department giving me the opportunity to travel back to Washington, D.C. to participate in The Candlelight Vigil and Memorial Service at The White House.  I am fortunate and proud to have represented this great department. 

As I sat at the Wall, alone in my thoughts in front of the section baring Tim’s name, I was overcome with emotion.  Honestly, I was not prepared for it.  I am not ashamed to say that I cried.  The tears flowed as I sat and thought about all of the things that Tim was missing out on as his eight-year-old son and 12- year-old daughter grow up without their dad.  I cried for them and their loss of having to grow up without their “rock.”

What struck me the most, as I sat there on the granite, was how MANY names appeared on the Wall.  I watched as the friends and family, young and old, of other fallen officers whose names are vast etched in stone, stood crying and holding one another mourning the loss of their brave loved ones.  I realized that my loss also was their loss and vice-versa.

We all know the expression, law enforcement is, “one big family.”  When you attend National Police Week, you realize that it is more than an expression, it is a reality.  One hears the stories of valor, bravery and tragedy from all over our great country and speaks to the people who have lived those stories.  It becomes clear that the “Thin Blue Line” is real.  We are all a part of it.  Putting on the badge and leaving our homes every day is an honor and carries with it a huge responsibility.  Honor for those of us who have given up everything in the process of fulfilling the oath that we all take on the day that we are sworn in as Police Officers.  None of us are perfect but we can be perfect in our attempt to live up to the oath that we took and to validate the loss we all suffer every time a Police Officer is hurt or killed.

It was not my intention to get “preachy” but I needed to share the tremendous experience I was fortunate enough to have by going to National Police week.  I hope and wish that every Police Officer has the opportunity to attend this incredible event at least once in their career.  I believe it will change (or re-affirm) the core reasons why all of us chose this incredibly honorable profession.

Lastly, I want to thank Ryan, Jeff, Austin and Chief Milstead for sharing their time during this trip.  I was proud to introduce all of them to my close friends from the Seattle Police Department.  I was proud to represent my new department. 

I realize that my time here in Mesa is has been brief and that perhaps someone else may have been more deserving to attend this event, but I assure you that the gift of this trip was not lost on me and I’ll do my best to make it up to all of you as we go through our careers together.  Stay safe and look after one other.

Respectfully,

 Officer Court Harris

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