Dear Mrs. ––,
We regret to inform you of your husband’s death. We know it comes as striking news to you, your family and loved ones. How tragic that men, and women alike, must depart from this life at such a young age. Our deepest sympathies and affections are extended to you and your family. We – and I especially – cannot begin to comprehend the grief and sorrow that you’ll experience within the next few days.
In this vocation lives of good men, like your husband, are put on the line to save others, and to better the society in which we must live. This means any small error can be costly. Our team failed to protect your husband, and together we will forever regret it.
We honored and revered your husband – our brother – in life; we wish to bequeath his memory in death. God bless you; may He remain with you and comfort you in your trials and loneliness.
We extend to you our deepest regrets and most sincere apologies.
That was a pseudo-letter I wrote at a Special Operations Response School (SORT) I attended many years ago. The letter isn't real, but the content is poignant and has validity. The letter meant even more to the operators on that training team whose teammate died the year before in an incident.
Last week, and this up-coming week, I get the privilege of working with several law enforcement and private security professionals, engaging in shooting and tactical training. I enjoyed speaking with some of them about various SWAT incidents and police shootings, and I've made some new friends in different parts of the U.S. and throughout various agencies.
My participation once again reminded me of the importance to train hard and train realistically. In a job where lives are on the line, it is imperative that those who train must to so to their utmost ability. There cannot be negligence or irresponsibility. And, those in charge of training must know their jobs well. You cannot draw water from an empty bucket. Continued training is imperative.
A couple SWAT commanders have asked me recently to assist in training their teams. If I could, I'd donate time, energy and literally millions of dollars to help my brothers and sisters in law enforcement. We sleep comfortably in our beds only because noble, brave sentries guard the night. They are the ones who stand between us and the criminals, crazies and cranks. To borrow the words of another, they do the things we're too afraid, too unskilled or too civilized to do for ourselves. We want to be protected, but we really don't want to see how it's done.
To all the unsung warriors in thankless jobs, to include their families who often bear the sorrows and frustrations of such a livelihood vicariously, thank you. Thank you.