No Community Is Immune to This Kind of Tragedy
by Telluride Chief Marshal A. James Kolar
Aug 06, 2009 | 401 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GUEST COMMENTARY

On July 31, 2009 Montrose residents and members from surrounding communities gathered to honor the passing of a fallen hero. Police Sergeant David J. Kinterknecht was shot and killed in the line of duty in recent days when responding to the report of a family disturbance. Fellow officers Larry Witte and Rodney Ragsdale sustained gunshot wounds during their response to the incident as well and it is our hope that they will fully recover from their injuries.

Regrettably, similar ceremonies take place on the average of once a week around our nation. Preliminary statistics indicate there were 41 law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2008 and an additional 67 law enforcement officers were accidentally killed in this same time period. The study of these incidents reveal that it matters not the size of an agency or community, for line of duty deaths historically have included jurisdictions that are comprised of anywhere from one officer to thousands. Furthermore, over 59,000 officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2007 and it is wishful thinking to believe that ‘this type of thing just won’t happen here.’ If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that no state, region or community is immune to this type of tragedy.

Law enforcement officers quickly come to recognize the hazards associated with this profession but one is never fully prepared to accept the loss of a fellow officer who is taken in the line of duty. A senseless death like this gives one pause, and stretches the emotional limits of family, friends and community alike. Yet, I would like to believe that there is hope that springs from the depths of despair: that the heartrending loss of man who was a loving spouse, father, son, uncle, brother and grandfather, will ultimately bind us closer together and we shall become stronger and more compassionate for having endured the pain of this experience.

William Shakespeare seemed to capture the essence of the camaraderie shared by men in battle when he described the King of England’s words of motivation and encouragement during the French battle of Agincourt. Rallying his men for one last engagement against insurmountable odds, King Henry V gave voice to the underlying sentiment of brotherhood that frequently develops in the face of extreme adversity:

“We few, we happy few: we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

So, in this time of mourning, our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those touched by this tragedy. We honor the memory of not just a man and colleague who made the ultimate personal sacrifice, but we pay tribute to all of the men and women of the law enforcement community, the firefighters, paramedics, EMT’s and the members of our armed services who, on a daily basis, go willingly into harm’s way in service to their country, to their community, their friends and neighbors and to the strangers they have not yet come to know.

Fair winds and Godspeed, Dave. Know that your sacrifice shall forever be carried in the hearts and memories of your brothers and sisters in Blue.
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