A Mother’s Day without Mom

For 14 children of law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice last year, Mother’s Day 2009 is, sadly, taking place without mom. Their mothers were killed in the line of duty in 2008 serving and protecting the families of America.

Of the 13 female officers who died last year – a near-record total – eight had children: 12 daughters and two sons, collectively. Two of the officers also had grandchildren. Detective Sandra Bullock of the Bushnell (FL) Police Department left behind two daughters and five grandchildren. She died in an automobile accident last August 5th. And Ordinance Officer Kathy Ann Cox of Gordon County (GA) had two daughters, a son and two grandchildren. She, too, died in an automobile accident last August.

Deputy Sheriff Martha Ann Woods-Shareef also died last August after being struck and killed by a pick-up truck driven by a suspect in a burglary she was responding to. The 25-year veteran left behind a daughter.

Two other veteran officers – Isabel Nazario of the Philadelphia Police Department and Kristine Fairbanks of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service – left behind one daughter each. Officer Nazario died last September 5th after her patrol cruiser was struck by a stolen SUV driven by an underage juvenile. Officer Fairbanks was shot and killed, also in September, while investigating a suspicious vehicle on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

In June, Sergeant Barbara Shumate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was killed in an automobile accident while returning to her department’s training facility. The 10-year veteran had a daughter and a son.

For the children of two female officers killed in 2008, this is their second Mother’s Day without their moms. Nevada State Trooper Kara Kelly-Borgognone died in February 2008 in a vehicle crash as she was responding to a call involving a possible bomb at a local gas station. She had two daughters. And Investigator Laura Cleaves of the Santa Barbara County (CA) District Attorney’s Office died last May 1 after her vehicle was struck head-on by a fleeing suspect. She, too, left behind two daughters.

All too often, it seems, Americans lose sight of the fact that law enforcement officers are “people” too – husbands, wives, fathers and, as more women enter the law enforcement professional, increasingly mothers as well. This Mother’s Day, let’s remember those heroic moms who made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and protection. And, as we kick off National Police Week 2009, let’s thank and salute all the brave moms – and dads – who continue to serve and protect today.