Thursday, June 5, 2014

What We Saw


This isn’t the first time I’ve expressed this sentiment. 

That the RCMP is one big family. 

For better or for worse, in good times, and in bad times, the familial bonds that stretch across this country “are strong and they are fierce”. (As quoted by a fellow RCMP wife offering her support to the families of the fallen.)

So when one of ours is hurting, we all feel it.

I know the news reports on what is newsworthy, and a video taken inside a house by people witnessing a police officer’s death, well, it’s certainly newsworthy.  Insensitive as I feel it may be, to news outlets, and to social media addicts, it is both dramatic and compelling enough to have been shared thousands of times.

And I can see why people think it’s ok.  There is nothing overtly gruesome.  Besides the video, simple photos that were posted of the police car with the window shot out.  Or the unmarked car riddled with bullet holes. The many, many photos taken of the men and women huddled, guns drawn, behind police cars.  After all, these are photos taken at the scene of an international news story.

But let me tell you how we, those who have dedicated our lives to loving someone who puts on that uniform day after day, see it.

That car with the windows shot out, that was the car our husband drove by with on a warm summer day, while the kids were playing outside, running through sprinklers and dripping sticky popsicle juice all over the sidewalk. It’s the car that he rolled down the window, called the kids over to say hi, and leaned out for a kiss from his baby girl.

That bullet ridden unmarked car is full of our friends, who heard there was a lemonade stand and pooled their change to stop by and make the neighbourhood kids ecstatic when they got a ten dollar bill.

And those anonymous police officers, risking their lives tracking down a murderous young man with a vengeance, well they are the friends who fill my house with laughter, and love, and babysit my kids so my husband and I can have a date night despite being so far away from family.  They are the people who become so close to our hearts that ‘family’ becomes a much more suitable than ‘co-worker’ or ‘friend’.

And that video. 

That video is the soundtrack to our deepest, darkest fears.  Every shot that rang out caught us in the chest, made us struggle to catch our breath, and broke our hearts shot by shot.

Because to people who see more than the uniform, who see the way their one pant leg gets all short and dorky when they carry their Taser, or how their vest rides up after a few weeks away from the gym, or how they tilt their heads to the side and look up into space when they are receiving a call and you learn to stop talking mid syllable, that wasn’t just a video. 

That was having to witness a family member’s death over and over and over again.

And while you felt like this gave the viewer a sense of how quickly things can happen, it gave us a sense at how quickly our lives can change forever.

So I can imagine you will receive angry letters, and tweets and petitions, and many who will stand up and defend the right to show news in its most raw, unadulterated form.

That’s fine I suppose, it’s all prerogative in the end.

I just wanted you to know what we saw.

To the families, our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers are with you in the hard days to come.


36 comments:

  1. A thoughtful reality check for all of us.

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    1. I want to make sure that our RCMP and police are issued the safety gear that they need to reduce risk. There were good changes recommended after the Alberta Mayerthorpe killings. Does Moncton have the necessary funds to protect the officers. When the dispatch sends out an officer to handle an armed person on a city street, A) are at least 2 officers sent out at the same time? B) do they have flak jackets and helmets? C) do they have officer to officer radio in those helmets? The videos made me more concerned for officer safety and whether we should be demanding that our governments provide what is needed.

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  2. thankful for this post as this is exactly how I saw it as well. my heart is broken for those families involved. my worst nightmare :(

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  3. Thank you for posting. This could be any one of our DH's/DW's... we are all feeling for the spouse of the member in this video. We are all grieving, and we can all, as spouses, see it this way. It hits us in our hearts because we are all so aware that it could at any time be us in this situation.

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  4. Thank you for posting this. We as spouses can all relate and we are all very aware that this can be any one of us at any time, anywhere. It hits us in the heart. We are all grieving for the families personally involved. We can all see it like this and as we thank our lucky stars it wasn't our DH/sDWs, our hearts are also breaking for those that are directly involved. A rock and a hard place. The spouses involved are living all of our worst nightmares and we are all united with heavy hearts as we offer our strength and condolences, and stand behind those families with unwavering support.

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  5. Thank you for posting this. I am an aunt and a friend of RCMP and of many other Police Officers. Well said.

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  6. Thank you for sharing! My dad is a staff sergeant in the RCMP in BC, and this hits incredibly close to home. Just last week my dad was involved in a high speed chase of an armed man who had just shot another man in the face. I could barely choke back the tears as my mom recounted the story, telling me of how when my dad had pulled up alongside the vehicle in an attempt to get him off the road before he reached the highway and posed an even greater public safety issue-- the suspect turned and just grinned at him. She told me how afraid she was to think that the driver had only to lift his weapon and shoot... Fortunately for my dad and our family, that incident had a comparatively happy ending. The suspect was apprehended and the man he shot suffered serious, but not life threatening injuries.

    When I was a kid I took it for granted that my dad would get home safely at the end of every shift. It wasn't until I was an adult that my parents shared some of the more intense situations my dad has been in, some of the threats that have been made against my dad, even my siblings and I. The reality is that there are no guarantees.

    I was torn up a few days ago, at the mere prospect of my dad in such a perilous situation, and those pangs came rushing back in vivid detail when I saw that video, thinking about how differently it could have all turned out. But I cannot even begin to fathom the pain the families, loved ones, and colleagues are feeling. I ache for the children who have lost a parent, for the spouses who have seen and heard their worst nightmare play out.

    I hope they will find some measure of peace in the love and empathy coming their way from across the country and beyond. Most of all, I hope the other police and soldiers involved catch this sick kid, so he can be brought to justice without any further injury or loss of life.

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    1. I was a dispatcher that day your dad entered that situation. What started out as just another day in our response centre turned into an all hands on deck situation very quickly. As a coworker, friend, wife and mother of Members, I always get a hitch in my throat and a swell in my heart when I see how quickly and passionately our Members support each other on the road. There is no doubt that your dad's situation could have gone horribly wrong, but our boys and girls on the road that day worked together as a team and ensured no harm came to others.

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  7. The words written are words that echoed through my mind as I watched the news. It does hit close to home for me and seeing those images just brings back devastating memories. This world has become so attached to media and social networking that they tend to forget that those images they are viewing or sharing are images of a fallen comrade, brother, sister, mother, father etc.to the rest of us that have or are associated to the blue line. When I saw one of the images where there was blood on the ground, I cried and my heart was very heavy because I knew that it was from one of our members of the blue line. Very very sad.

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  8. This post is so thoughtful it breaks my heart for the families and the days to come. Those members went out to work Wednesday and lives have changed, ended, and will never be the same. Know you have a large family to help you through this. I have a member married to my neice and I can only just imagine how something like this would affect that beautiful family. These fallen members gave their lives for us and they will never be forgotten. It is very sad that our world would be turned upside down by one individual like this.

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  9. Well said. Just because our modern world allows us to capture these images, it should not allow us to cause more harm than has already happened. To the families of all RCMP , city and provincial police forces. Stay strong and please stay safe.

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  10. Well said. Our dear son-in-law is a member in BC, while I don't live in fear I feel startled and sad. Worried. I abhor this kind of media coverage, have made my thoughts known to the news outlets and asked my friends to do same.

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  11. I for one will not watch it. I will not give the killer any support by watching or hearing. I will pray for all who hurt by this senseless act. God bless.

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  12. I will not watch it either. I heard the video sound track on the car radio today and I could only think how awful for the families and friends of these officers to experience the worst day of their lives over and over and over again through the sharing and re-sharing of that video. My heart aches for them.

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  13. Thanks for your Heartfelt post, we do go to work thinking about our families, and what our day may bring us. We always Plan to come home, we never arrive home on time but we do... unless !

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  14. Brittany, I just want you to know that many did not watch that video out of respect for the RCMP and their families. You are supported by millions who think of you, pray for you and, when the time is right, will help you in any way we can.

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  15. Huge thanks for saying what I've been unable to. I can't watch the news, I don't want to know the details - all I want to see is the headline that a single bullet has gone into the brain of that madman. When I attended the Mayerthorpe memorial this year, I met the mother of one of the slain officers... and now my eyes are wet again :(

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  16. Dear Lord in heaven....please help us all. Living in a very busy border town... news from Detroit and the rest of the U.S. is the norm so I didn't hear about this horrific crime within the confines of my own borders until now. It saddens me that we have become so depraved and indifferent that not only posting but viewing scenes from the murder of anyone, especially a member of law enforcement, has fallen within the scope of "normal" social media perusal for many. My deepest sympathy goes to those affected by these horrendous acts and those who risk their lives in a daily basis for my ultimate safety.

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  17. Well said Brittany, my thoughts and prayers are with you and the other loved ones who are suffering from this horrific ordeal. I am the Sister of a retired RCMP officer and a proud Aunt of a current Officer. My heart skips a beat when news of an officer loses his life in the line of duty. I haven't seen the video and don't want to so I'm avoiding the news and social media for now. No one could know how we feel or what we go through when something as tragic as this happens. Thank-you for posting and may God Bless you and keep you safe during this very difficult time. Take care Brittany,we are all praying for you.

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  18. Thank you! As a part of this "family" you said exactly what we have been saying...it's not just the average citizen with an iphone, the issue here is the media... correction, they are NOT reporters, they are Paparazzi, looking for their "exclusive". Constantly offering up rumour as NEWS! They tear them down daily in the news... let me ask them.. "Where the hell were YOU the past 28 hours as our "family" strapped on their vests to go search for this scum bag? Why were YOU not running around looking for him so you could get your exclusive scoop???

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  19. My cousin's husband is a fellow K9 officer. This whole thing made me want to ball up my fists and cover my ears and just start screaming. Thank you so much for the sacrifices you make to keep our families safe.

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  20. Thank you for your post. Very touching way of expressing your feelings. I must say I am guilty of sharing 2 pieces. 1rst was the picture of the suspect (which I felt was useful for everyone to share so if someone saw him to call 911). The second (which I now regret) is the video of a very far away scene where you can hear around 12 gunshots. you can't see anything and you can just understand a word or two that is being said. I thought this wasn't disrespectful because of that. Why I shared it? I can explain.

    There is so much bad bad things going on all around the world. we are bombarded everyday with news of bombs blowing up in Syria, and plane crashes and families going through such awful things. Our brains have learned to do 'in-and-out' response because this is just too much to all take in. Although I think bombs and plane crashes are such terrible terrible events, I think if we were to really feel every tragedy we hear about, we would spend our lives crying from morning until night. When I SEE something happening, it takes me right there and I FEEL so much for those people. I shoot sympathy through my pores and I want to do anything I can for those people. I also want other people to feel this so they want to help too.

    Yesterday we were hearing about D day events in France. I know war is terrible, I know many many people died. I know concentration camps were horrible horrible. but gosh... when I SEE those D day videos, my heart bleeds for those veterans.

    So that is basically why I posted that video. First because it wasn't gory and second because I thought it made me feel so much, I wanted other people who weren't there to feel it and feel for Moncton and the officers and want do something. Pray, talk to them, offer any help possible. Not being from a police family, I did not think. I did not think that just the sound of those far away shots could make you or anybody else feel whatever you described above. So I am sorry for sharing that video. I have since removed it from my page so if these people see it in the future, it won't be from my page. I am sorry :o(

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  21. I saw the video and felt immediately it did not need to be aired. I could not agree with you more. We do not need the gruesome and horrible photos and video clips to know the tragedy that has taken place. The time and resources ought to be spent honoring our RCMP and nationwide officers by televising more to glorify the work they do to keep us safe.

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  22. Thank you for these words of wisdom. Everyone needs to place ourselves in the shoes of others and think "if it were my family what would I want?" My heart goes out to those that have lost, and to those that spend each day hoping their loved one walks through the door. I would also like to thank the families that love these men and women, and accept their career, so that someone like me can sleep better at night knowing I am protected. Your sacrifice is inspiring <3

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  23. I disagree about the video. There is going to be different emotional responses to some of what is released. I do believe they cross the line on many occasions and did with the bloody picture but I don't believe that was the case with the video that I saw. The one I saw highlighted the traumatic reality that the witnesses experienced. It was next to impossible to visually make out what was going on outside of the window. The video I saw moved me to tears and made me feel a deep sorrow and respect for the fallen officers. It didn't highlight the killing but instead that trauma around it which for some will be beneficial to experience. If there is another video then I didn't see it but I saw most all that were available.

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  24. Well said . Brought tears to my eyes!

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  25. I am a member and a members wife and you hit the nail on the head!!! Bawled the whole way through. Great handle on it.

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  26. The video made me very concerned for officer safety. Are our governments providing enough money to ensure that, especially when dispatch says there is an armed person on a city street, officers A are dispatched in no less than twos B have helmets with officer to officer communication and bullet proof vests. I am worried that the recommendations from the Alberta rcmp murders may not be in effect or may not have been enough. We want information to ensure our officers arent being put at unnecessary risk. No press are covering these issues at the moment.

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  27. I agree 100% that horrible video does not have to be on t.v and in the media over and over....I am not a wife of a police officer and it ripped my heart out just watching watch happened to another human being.....The families don't need to keep seeing it....it's painful knowing and dealing with this horrible act please know my heart and prayers are with each and everyone of the RCMP officers and their familtes...Much Love and prayers xoxoxo

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  28. I'm not a part of the RCMP family, but I felt sick when I saw that video and thought of the families who shouldn't see those moments. These types of videos may help the police in their investigation but I don't believe should be put out for the general public to see. The way social "media" is now, it is difficult to stop it and I don't know what the answer is. Thank you for letting us know how it feels to be you. We need to hear it.

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  29. These words are so so true, we as an overgrown population has become so desensitized to the horror's around us that we begin to see these heinous acts as just another day, well I for one do not see them as just another day, and I cringe at a lot of things that gets posted in the name of freedom of speech, it's sad that freedom of forethought wasn't as prevalent. I also wish you had of given credit where credit was due. The woman who actually wrote this piece did so from the emotions that had overwhelmed her to the point of needing to put those thoughts to paper. Mrs Van Winkle you spoke from the heart, and many hearts have felt it, thank you!

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    1. Thanks! Just to clarify it was I, Brittany who wrote this.. I'm not sure who mrs van winkle is.... :)

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  30. Thank you Brittany for clarifying that for me, I shall take her name off the copy of the post that I shared on my wall and I shall put yours there where it belongs, when I post something on my wall that is not mine I like to either give credit where credit is due or to at the very least say that these are not my words, so I hope you are not offended that I assumed that this woman did the same. Your wise and heartfelt words touched me, and I could not help but share them with my facebook friends, for I agreed wholeheartedly with every word that you said, Thank you!!

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