Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

Today in 1999, I woke up to the alarm clock at 0800 tuned to a news station. It was the Saturday before the Georgia bar exam. When the radio came on, I heard the words that I will never forget; “Two Cobb County Police Officers are dead this morning and a third had been shot.” I didn’t gasp or scream. I was just numb.

The deaths of Steve Reeves and Stephen Gilner was a shock to our community and my department. Their deaths followed the July 13, 1993 shooting death of Officer Robbie Ingram who was also with our department. As I lay in bed waiting for more details, I realized that the six years since Robbie’s death was merely an instant in terms of healing.

This month, I attended a memorial service to commemorate the life of Officer Robbie Ingram on the 20th anniversary of his death. The gathering of LEOs and Robbie’s family was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Robbie worked where I worked and was standing on a street I patrolled many times when he was shot. For me, his death was the true gut punch every LEO feels the first time they realize it could happen to anyone. It was hard to believe twenty years had passed.

At funerals, we always hear that time heals all wounds. Perhaps that is true, but not for me. I’m still sad and I’m still angry that these brave centurions were murdered because they wore a uniform and took an oath to protect our community.

The lessons learned from their deaths are obvious for LEOs. Be vigilant. Train hard. Do what is necessary to come home at the end of your shift. For me, the lessons went a step further. As a lawyer fortunate enough to represent LEOs, I know that many times I am the defender of their rights. I’ve chosen to channel my grief and anger into action to protect LEOs and advocate for them politically, in the legislature, and in the courts. I do it because it is the right thing to do. On days like today, I just hope my efforts are worthy of the honor and respect of my fallen brothers and sisters. Stay safe.

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