A family is grieving. So is a police family. And so is an entire city.
“He was one of the team…he was their brother. They lost a brother who gave up his life for this community,” said an emotional Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on WTMJ’s Wisconsin’s Afternoon News after the shooting death of a police officer on Wednesday.
“You shake your head. You’re just angry, thinking ‘How could somebody do this?’ ”
Barrett spoke after a painful late morning and afternoon, where he first found out about a 35-year-old officer being shot from his security detail at City Hall. They then traveled to the scene of the crime.
“(We were) seconds away when I arrived at the scene when I heard he had passed away,” said the Mayor, who feels the emotion of losing three Milwaukee Police officers in the line of duty in eight months after no having an officer killed on duty for more than two decades.
“We went 22 years in this city without losing a police officer. Now in the span of eight months we have lost three. Having been accustomed to many, many years of relative safety, it’s a real jolt.”
He said grieving officers were going to need to support each other – a process reflected by the outpouring of support from outside law enforcement agencies minutes after the officer’s death was revealed.
“I think they need each other more than ever. I see that at the hospital, how much they support each other,” said the Mayor.
“They need this community to thank them more for what they do.”
Officers also realize every day that danger is incredibly inherent to the job – that the current day could be their last on the force.
“These can be very, very, very dangerous situations,” the Mayor reflected.
“They put themselves on the line, every time you head to a domestic squabble, every time you stop a vehicle, every time you execute a search warrant, you step into a potentially deadly situation.”
One like Wednesday. One that, when a mayor encounters the spouse of a fallen officer as he did today, leaves even him struggling for words.”
“There is little you can say. When you lose a husband, lose a dad, lose a son, it’s very difficult. The most important thing is to be real, to recognize their humanity and the sacrifice they made. Nobody can teach you what to say in that situation.”