WASHINGTON DC – Tens of thousands of law enforcement officers are in the nation’s capitol to honor their fallen colleagues and support their surviving family members during National Police Week.
This year, that includes four Colorado officers: Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm, El Paso County Deputy, Micah Flick, Las Animas County Sgt. Matthew Moreno and Littleton Police officer Kevin Denner.
From the moment they embark on this journey, family members are on an emotional rollercoaster.
Sgt. Moreno’s mother Christy Dagnillo said, “There is no way to prepare for this.. there is no way on earth you can prepare for all of this.”
Each step of the way, they are met with honor and respect. More than 250 members of honor guards from around the world are there to greet them as their arrive at the airport. At Reagan International, there were more than 250 officers from around the world on hand to lend a helping hand.
Officer Kevin Zodrow from the Leesburg, Virginia Police Department said, “We’ll carry their bags, try to give them little things to remember us by, patches, coins, talk to them about loved ones and family.”
He said it’s person, even though he’s never met any of them. “ You’re either choking back tears or just letting them roll. We take the time when given our assignment to look up the family is.. we read that story just moment before we walk down to pick them up.”
Officer Aidelle Gaskins from the Georgia State University PD added, “We came to pay respects to fallen officers. When they come in on the plane we are there to greet them and let them know we are here if they need anything. It’s very important, showing we are one brotherhood, one sisterhood, paying respects to one another and letting the family know your loved ones are not forgotten and they will always be in our hearts.”
John Footman from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said, "As part of the honor guard, we want to show the families we care about their loss and the hardship they suffered and make this journey a little pleasant and show them law enforcement cares about them and we have their hearts in mind."
Some have been to National Police Week before, and it’s a powerful reminder of the dangers they face each and every day. Officer Gaskins said, “It gets very emotional at times because it can happen to any one of us, it’s a daily job we signed up for, our life’s work.”
The families could not be more grateful for the help getting them through the next step in this journey that none of them wanted to be on.
Christy Dagnillo said, “They will never know how much this means to all of us. From my heart, I wish I could thank each and every one of them because it is just amazing.”
Officer Kevin Zodrow sent this follow up email to our Deborah Takahara:
“Deborah - I wanted to share the following with you as it directly relates to your questions about why it is important to us to participate. Immediately following our interview we ran down to gate 4 for a plane that had 47 survivors on it. Many of them from Louisiana that connected through Dallas. We met the McNeil family. I had the honor of carrying slain Officer McNeil’s 4 year old daughter to baggage and then transportation where we played for nearly 30 minutes together awaiting the arrival of the motor units and buses. Upon their arrival she grabbed hold of me tightly as asked if I would carry her to the bus. I willingly obliged. This wasn’t even the hardest part. The part that nearly broke even me (sadly, I’m fairy good nowadays at compartmentalizing emotion) was when I was carrying her through the terminal. I asked her to show me who in the crowd was her family. (We we’re walking along side her mom but I knew there were other siblings and possibly family here too). She looked around and then looked at me, pointed around and said “These are all my family. All these police are MY family.” This is why we do it. This 4 year old princess and her 7 year old sister have been showered with love since Oct 2017. So much so it is all they know nowadays. She is right. We are family. The roots of the thin blue line family run deep and wide. Thank you for what you do and sending a positive message about today’s law enforcement. It means the world.”
Watch: Emotional Mother’s Day at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
Watch: Thousands take part in the Police Unity Bike Tour to honor fallen officers