Thirteen Birthdays; Remembering Paul
By Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
Paul was killed on May 27, 2007. That was the worst day of my life.
November 2, 2019 will be the thirteenth birthday not spent with him. No birthday wishes. No birthday beer. No birthday cake. No birthday celebration. No birthday phone call. Paul would have been 36. (see PaulFarris.org)
Since Paul’s death I have actively engaged to help prevent other innocent people and law enforcement officers suffering injury and death as a result of unnecessary pursuits.
I do this for you, but perhaps of equal importance, I do it for myself. This is a way to manage the unfathomable grief of losing my child. This is my PTSD therapy. This is my emotional release. It is the well from which I draw the strength to get up every morning.
There’s an excellent TEDx talk by Penny Kreitzer, a mom who lost her 21 year-old daughter. Her talk is entitled, “How to speak about the loss of a child.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV54J3JSdBg. Perhaps she can better explain a grieving parent’s journey better than I.
In the Pursuit For Change and PursuitResponse world, a Presidential Executive Order was signed in October 2019. The EO established a Commission on Law Enforcement and an Administration of Justice, which will study issues critical to ensuring that communities are safe and that those who enforce and administer the law are properly supported. Some areas of focus for the Commission, as summarized by IACP, include:
- Challenges to law enforcement from mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, and other social factors that influence crime;
- The recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of law enforcement officers;
- The physical safety, health, and wellness of law enforcement officers;
- Steps that can be taken to better integrate education, employment, social services, and public health into efforts to reduce crime;
- The effectiveness of law enforcement training methods;
- The Commission will deliver a report and recommendations to the Attorney General within one year.
Although not specifically defined at this point, we have support from Department of Justice to actively participate and work toward the inclusion of specific training and technologies including everything related to the management of and reduction of vehicular pursuits which always endanger officers and citizens. This is great news and I’ll have more to report as we head into 2020.
Law enforcement has always and will continue to get “beat up” by the press and others, including me. And some boneheaded actions deserve calling out. So when it comes to unnecessary police chases, I’ll continue to press hard.
But with that said, the vast majority of actions taken by law enforcement professionals are warranted and necessary to protect us all, including some violent-felony vehicular pursuits. For their heroic actions, I truly support and thank LEOs for their public service. And I’m incredibly hopeful that, if we’re able to provide LEOs with better tools and more / better training, we will see reductions in the number of pursuits across the US. This, in turn, will save citizen and law enforcement officer lives.
Perhaps, after so many years, you’ve grown tired of reading and listening about my grief management and my pursuit reduction-related activities.
I won’t apologize. Nor shall I stop writing and speaking. I cannot, because it’s not yet time.
Happy Birthday Paul. I love you immensely and miss you even more.
From a book I recently read.
The narrator describing a man after the violent death of his child:
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