We lost a SWAT officer here in Los Angeles last night; some goblin killed three people, called the police, and met the officers at the door with gunfire, killing one and wounding another.
As he and my host spoke, I looked around the room and noticed 20-feet away a graying man of Asian descent at a table of mostly Hispanic officers. “Wow,” I thought to myself. “I wish I could have brought the LA Times Editorial Board down here. Let them see the brutal, racist, lily-white LAPD that they so often blast. Let them see a black cop hugging a white cop like long lost brothers.”
That Asian cop, Jim Veenstra, now lies in the same hospital where Randy Simmons succumbed, a bullet having felled him in the same fusillade.
The men of SWAT … it is an all male organization by happenstance, not regulation … are highly, highly professional. Their work is not a matter of bravado or testosterone, but of excellent performance focused on saving lives of innocents. Their standards are as inflexible as the laws of physics and ballistics that have the potential to decide the success … or length – of their service. Thatâ€™s truly their only commonality. They are of all colors and backgrounds, educations and diversions. But within their unique fraternity they are one.
It is a fraternity in the truest sense. Men bound by tacit agreement to give their lives not only for each other, but for complete strangers in the most volatile peril. There is little place for those who do not know the terror that is incumbent upon crossing a threshold to enter a room occupied not only by a killer whose dispatch will require brutal force, but by an innocent whose only hope for life is you. Those who do not know that fear – nor the professional dedication required to master it – would not have fit in that room. Which is perhaps why the highest ranking of the guests mingled strictly with other brass and departed within barely 30 minutes.
I’ve been on the fringes of that world, and have the highest respect for the people who can stand in it and face the terror that Bob Parry describes. All of us stand behind them, sheltered by them and by people like them from things we know exist and hope to never see.
Godspeed, Randy Simmons. Thank you, Robert Parry.