I played pinch-hitter for Kelly Frey today, serving as a presenter at an event in which she has been a participant and supporter for years. The Amen Corner John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards at Sheraton Square each year recognizes the bravery, resourcefulness and daring of police officer in the line of duty.
In the aftermath of the G20 and accusations of police misconduct, it was a change to spend an entire afternoon celebrating officers in the city and region who had put themselves in danger in order to protect others. The day itself reminded me of something event chair ( and former county commissioner ) Larry Dunn said during his remarks. He said we are often forget how dangerous a job it is. Imagine going to work every day, not knowing how the day will unfold and not knowing if a situation you are placed in may kill you.
It’s not something the families of Sam Hicks, Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo have to imagine. They continue to live the ultimate nightmare. Hicks killed during a police raid in November while Kelly, Mayhle and Sciullo died on that fateful April morning in Stanton Heights. As those officers were honored and their families stepped forward to receive the posthumous honor, I could not help but be saddened.
I remember that morning. I was there. I watched the proceedings as officers tried to rescue the trio after they were shot and killed. I saw the look on those officers faces as they emerged from the street after the firefight. I saw first-hand just how dangerous their job is … and how deadly it can be.
Today, I also saw how the job can affect families when things take a turn for the worst. I met the parents of officer Paul Sciullo after today’s presentation. It was obvious that the emotion of the event had overwhelmed them. I was struck and asked how can they continue to attend such events where the intentions are good, but the pain of having to remember that day must be excruciating. As the couple told me, it was the least they could do for their son.
It’s been quite a year around here for our local law enforcement officials. From G20 to Stanton Heights … to the L.A. Fitness shootings … along with the daily crime blotter. It is not an easy job. On this afternoon, when the best and brightest were recognized, we also were reminded it’s not a safe job. That’s why today’s event was so special … and so significant.
Thanks Kelly. I was more than honored to fill in for you this year.