Thursday, May 14, 2015

K-27, Sergeant Greg Moore

In the early morning hours of May 05, 2015, Sergeant Greg Moore was shot while attempting to apprehend a suspect in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He was alone when the suspect allegedly produced a small, hidden handgun and shot Sergeant Moore, and then fled the scene in his patrol car, and took his firearm in the process. In the course of standard safety checks from dispatch, his failure to respond to the radio traffic prompted a search. He was found lying on the street by a civilian, who happened to pass by the murder scene. Within hours, the suspect was apprehended, and an ambulance was called to treat the suspect for dog bites. In the meantime, Sergeant Moore succumbed to his wounds.

Line of duty death is a reality every law enforcement officer faces on a daily basis, and a risk each officer accepts as part of the job. It is a reality that cops try not to focus on, nor dismiss. The realization of their potential demise keeps the officers operating at a level that ensures they go home at the end of each shift. Fortunately, line of duty deaths are rare, considering our population, and the number of officers on duty. As of May, for the year of 2015, 44 officers lost their lives on the job, from a wide range of causes that include gunfire, assault, automobile accidents, and heart failure. Each loss is significant. Each officer will be lost forever. Each will be remembered. I pray that none are forgotten.

I was blessed to attend Sargent Greg Moore’s funeral in Coeur d’Alene on Saturday, May 09, at Lake City High School. As many as 4,000 people attended the service, most of them law enforcement officers; coming from all over the United States and Canada.

When I arrived at the high school, I knew something was different about this funeral. I’ve been to other line-of-duty-death ceremonies—to many, in fact, but this event was different. Special. Remarkable.

As I parked and made my way to the gymnasium, I was awed to see that a group of citizens, who appeared to be members of various motorcycle clubs, were lined along the sidewalk that led to the gymnasium, each of them holding an American flag, forming a silent salute of gratitude to Sergeant Moore’s memory, and the sacrifice he paid.

We stood in line for an hour while waiting to be seated, and once we arrived at our seats, I was overwhelmed by the sea of law enforcement officers. From my vantage in the balcony, I was able to estimate that approximately 3,000 officers were gathered to pay their respects. Once the gymnasium was filled to capacity, an overflow area was utilized, complete with television screens and a live broadcast of the ceremony.

Greg Moore’s funeral was as difficult as you might imagine. Heart wrenching tears and final words were spoken, and most of the people attending were fighting their own tears, despite the fact that the vast majority had never met Sergeant Moore. We were all saddened to discover that he left behind a 10-year-old son and one-year-old daughter, but we were proud to learn that Greg Moore was a stellar husband and father, who invested into his family every chance he could. He was a man who lived without regrets, and whose smile and good humor made him a favorite amongst his peers. After hearing the personal testimonies of what an amazing friend he was, I was deeply saddened that I had not the opportunity to meet him in person and, by the end of the service, I felt as though I lost a friend.

His service was unique in some regards, with sacramental methodology I had never before seen. One such instance occurred when seven members of the honor guard performed a bell ceremony, where a single bell was struck 21 times. Each officer participating in the ceremony individually saluted as the bell was struck, and each took a knee once in response to the bell’s toll. I understand the bell ceremony is part of a standard fireman’s salute to a fallen brethren, and the effect was rather profound.
Once the ceremony was complete, we assembled in our vehicles to create the procession. In a noble and dignified response, hundreds of police and emergency vehicles followed the Moore family to the cemetery for the interment ceremony. The vehicles stretched across Coeur d’Alene like a blue and red flashing ribbon of honor, weaving through the streets and across town. The display of affection for their fallen comrade was not insignificant.

Even more poignant was the citizen response to the funeral. For the entire four-mile journey from the high school to the cemetery, families and individuals lined the streets to display their grief and respect, and demonstrate their unity with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department. The entire length was lined with flags, homemade banners, saluting citizens, and people kneeling on the edge of the road. 

The procession passed one baseball field; the players stood in formation and saluted as the funeral passed. Their solidarity was moving, and there was no doubt that the entire community was grieving Sergeant Moore’s tragic death, in a refreshing response that countered the recent riots in the City of Baltimore.
One banner was prominently displayed that read, “Cop’s lives matter.” This was the prevailing and unifying theme for the City of Coeur d’Alene, and their heartfelt display could not be mistaken. Cop’s lives do matter, and I’m proud to live in a country where police are respected and honored, and their sacrifices are meaningful. Therefore, I say, may God bless the Greg Moore family, and bring them peace and comfort in the days to come, and may we always remember the sacrifice Sergeant Moore made in order to protect our families from harm. May he rest in peace.

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