Every fifty-two hours, on an average, a law enforcement officer is killed somewhere in America while protecting their communities. Last week, the officer paying this supreme sacrifice was very close to our homes. So close in fact, that our willingness in the past not to think about this ugly side of America can no longer be ignored.Captain Octavio Gonzales, Sheriff’s Deputy in St. John the Baptist Parish was responding to the shooting where one of his officers had been shot by a fugitive from Texas. Gonzales left his home for work that Friday morning just as he had done for the past 17 years while with the sheriff’s department.
He probably kissed his wife and two young children good bye and promised to see them that evening. He had a job to do, make their neighborhood safe, so that they and their neighbors could sleep well knowing that officers with strong community values were watching over them.
Only this time, something went wrong. The promise he made Friday morning to his family would be different. It was a promise he will never be able to keep. At the hands of a criminal with no respect for law and order, Gonzales’ family and friends were robbed of the things that meant the most to them, their loved one, and their faith in right and wrong.
He and his family were very much aware of the dangers his job possessed. But they probably tried not to think about that. Content in believing that this could never happen to them.
It doesn’t say much for what our society has become, does it? Wake up Louisiana, this tragedy is replayed every other day all across our nation as respect for authority continues to erode.
As Gonzales’ family will search for answers of why such a cowardly act could occur and destroy their lives, so will the families of about 160 police officers this year alone. A nightmare that we will likely see time and time again as we allow some to have excuses for not conforming to society’s norm.
In the case of Gonzales’ murderer, there is a long documented history of criminal activity by his assassin. A pattern that should have taken him off the street long before he robbed Gonzales’ wife, children and family of a normal life.
Although Captain Octavio Gonzales probably never saw himself as a hero, that he is. He represents everything that is right with America, and his death identifies much of what is wrong.