Lakewood officer shares Christmas story in letter
TACOMA, Wash. - A little boy and his toy dinosaur who came by the Lakewood Office Department station last Sunday to honor the four slain police officers touched an officer enough that the officer wanted to share the story in a Christmas letter to friends.
December 13, 2009
I'm not much for writing Christmas letters, and in fact this year, I didn't even feel like making the effort of buying and addressing Christmas cards at all. I'm sure you all have heard of the terrible tragedy that occurred here in Lakewood two weeks ago today – four of our officers, four people that have become my friends over the past 5 years as we all worked here together, were gunned down as they sat in a coffee shop. Three fathers and a mother – all of whom were dedicated to their jobs and their families – now dead.
The grief at our station and in our community has been overwhelming and we have all now just barely begun to process what this means for our department and for police departments all across our state and nation. Several times since this event happened, police agencies have responded to reports of individuals across King and Pierce Counties causing commotions and claiming to be planning to kill more officers. We do our best to maintain our composure and continue to do our jobs the best that we can.
It is hard not to remain bleak and jaded with these events so fresh in our minds. But something happened today, just 20 minutes ago, which made me want to send out a Christmas letter. I'm here at work and was just out in our secure parking lot helping another officer load collection bins into his car to take to a local Lakewood Police Independent Guild fundraiser event. I heard a woman, standing with a boy who couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 years old, calling, "Excuse me…." through our locked gate. She had apparently been trying to get to our front counter but found no one there, it being Sunday, and had just happened to see us in the parking lot. I walked over to her and saw that the little boy was holding a plastic baggy containing a dollar and some change, and was clutching a well-worn stuffed dinosaur.
The woman told me that her son, AJ, had seen the stories on tv about our 4 slain officers. She said that they had driven to our station all the way from Kingston because her son was so intent on helping the children of these officers. I opened the gate and the boy handed me the plastic baggy containing all the money from his piggybank and a note on which he had written "AJ….From me to Pleec. I Love You." And then, with tears in his eyes, he handed me his stuffed dinosaur. AJ's mom explained that he wanted to give the children of the slain officers the most precious thing that he owned, and that was his dinosaur, Bruno.
I told AJ that I would take the money that he wanted to donate, but that I thought the best thing he could do for the children of our 4 officers was to keep Bruno safe with him but to keep those kids in his heart when he hugged his dinosaur. He agreed and gratefully took Bruno back from me and held him tightly as if he never wanted to let him go again.
We have seen many, many acts of generosity and kindness over the past 2 weeks. We have hugged more friends and strangers than we could have ever imagined and have mended broken ties with people we haven't talked to for years. Yet nothing has touched me deeper, or given me more hope for the future, than AJ and his stuffed dinosaur. I gave AJ one of our department challenge coins, explaining to him that we only gave them out to the bravest and most deserving people we came across. I hope he will realize someday how much more than a dollar and some change he gave to me and to the Lakewood Police Department today.
So anyway, none of that is about Christmas, but it is about hope and love and I thought it was appropriate to share this holiday season.
I hope this letter finds all of you well and eager to spend the holidays with those you love. Squeeze everyone a little tighter and hug them a little longer today because life really is precious. Merry Christmas!