Fri April 13, 2012
Bitter Day for Law Enforcement
The reverberations of last night’s shooting in Greenland reach far beyond the town, out past the Seacoast region.
Many police officers, state troopers, sheriffs and their families today feel frustration, sadness, loss and a sense of resolve.
Thursday night’s events give the public a finer sense of what it means to be in law enforcement.
Dan Gorenstein (DG): As news trickled in on T.V. last night, Franklin Police Chief David Goldstein was home.
His wife Carol says that was really good.
Carol Goldstein: “I’m glad that my husband was home with me and watching it and I could talk to him about what was going on. Which I never could before.”
DG: Carol Goldstein is a law enforcement lifer.
Her dad was a state trooper in New Hampshire.
And her husband has been in the business for 33 years.
She says her mind and her heart went immediately to the family members of the 5 officers who were shot.
Carol Goldstein: ”I can’t even imagine what these people are feeling. The poor wife of that chief who died, he was going to retire, I mean, how do you even comprehend that?”
DG: Goldstein says as the Greenland story unfolded Thursday, she was ricocheted back to August 1997.
Carl Drega had shot and killed four people, two of them New Hampshire State Troopers.
And Goldstein’s husband was part of the manhunt.
Carol Goldstein: “It was like PTSD last night, the poor wives, watching their husbands go off, SWAT vans, being home and waiting, and just oh my god, I hope he comes home. It’s a horrible, horrible thing.”
DG: New Hampshire safety officials haven’t personally experienced such a violent day since the 1997 Drega shootings.
Since then of course, officers have been hurt and even killed in the line of duty.
Manchester Police Captain Nick Willard says the today is different from most other days because it reminds him of the fragile line he walks.
Willard: “I think every police officer sees themselves in each other. So when a police officer is felled, you picture your own family. You think of your own mortality, and the effects of leaving your family.”
DG: In Willard’s case, he’s married 20 plus years, had two teenage daughters.
Days like today remind safety officials they put their bodies between fists, bats, knives and bullets.
And Willard says somewhere in the back of officers’ minds they know nothings guaranteed.
Willard: “I see men and women who will give their life for the betterment of their community at the expense of their own loved ones. Chief Maloney was willing to die to serve his community, knowing he would deprive his wife of his love and companionship. And I don’t know of a greater sacrifice.”
DG: Many of the state’s top leaders have spent the past day or so praising the state’s law enforcement officers and emergency responders.
But over the past several years – at least in Concord – there’s often been a great deal of acrimony between lawmakers and public workers, including police.
There’s been heated battled over pension reform and collective bargaining rights.
Most notably, lawmakers have passed several gun bills despite strong opposition for law enforcement.
Franklin Police Chief David Goldstein says it’s moments like Greenland that remind the public of the value and sacrifice.
But he says, over his 33 years, that appreciation is fleeting.
David Goldstein: “All human beings have a tendency to compartmentalize their feelings and move on in their own way. Do I think this is something that will last forever? No. Not in the public’s eye. In law enforcement’s eye? Absolutely.”
DG: Manchester Captain Nick Willard agrees.
He says one of the things cops and troopers and sheriffs learn is that they’ve got a job to do.
Politics fall away.
What’s left – especially on days like today – says Willard is a deep desire to head back onto the beat and do their jobs.