What would “place” be without feeling safe — without being safe?
Last night, Officer Daniel C. Martinez, 33, was killed in the line of duty as he helped a mother retrieve her child from a dangerous home. The woman’s ex-boyfriend had been taken into custody earlier.
After shooting the mother and killing the officer, the suspect left the scene. An Oklahoma Highway Patrolman found the car and, as he was exiting his cruiser to assess the situation, a single gunshot was fired. The patrol officer waited for backup, and cleared the vehicle — the suspect had taken his own life.
The men and women at the Fort Smith Police Department have been a good friend to me for many years. They helped me do my job as a reporter — they helped keep me safe during hazardous situations. They protected me when not so happy subjects of my investigative reporting threatened my life. When a young man tried to take my purse a few years ago and badly bruised my arm during the scuffle, they did their best to find the suspect.
One of my toughest assignments as a reporter was covering the execution of John Edward Swindler — he was the last man to be electrocuted on Arkansas’ death row. Swindler had murdered Fort Smith Police Officer Randy Basnett.
Every time I step inside the Fort Smith Police Department, I see men and women enjoying one another’s company, helping citizens, and I’m drawn to the display case highlighting the most recent Fort Smith officers killed in the line of duty. I always wonder when the next tragedy will happen, and I wonder who will be shot down while trying to protect me, or someone like me.
Officer Martinez was married. Five children will miss growing up with their father.
I’m so thankful for my daddy. And I’m thankful for peace officers who wear the badge and take an oath to protect us so that we — and our daddys — can have a chance to grow old.
God bless those who love a police officer — never knowing what “routine” activity will change everything.
God bless the mom for trying to rescue her child.