Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sadness All Around

I waited a bit before writing up the following post. When I really have strong emotions about something, I usually need some time to wrap my head and heart around it before being able to write or even talk about it. So here it is:

If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, you most certainly heard the news over the weekend of a Philly cop who was shot and killed in Port Richmond as he approached a band of thieves attempting to rob a grocery store bank. As 12 year police veteran Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski happened upon the masked gang of three armed robbers, he was gunned down with what is believed to be an AK-47 assault rifle.

An AK-47 assault rifle.

As people rushed to help him, Sgt, Liczbinski stumbled to the floor and, realizing the gravity of his injury, whispered, "Tell my wife I'll miss her."

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sgt. Liczbinski, who "leaves behind a wife and three children", would have turned 40 yesterday.

In an attempt to apprehend the gang as they fled the scene, one suspect was shot and killed, another was captured and taken into custody, and a third is still at large. A reward of $150,000 has been set for any information leading to the capture of the third suspect, and the Philadelphia police force is said to be determined to apprehend this man before the burial of their fallen commrade, which will take place this Friday.

As with any tragedy, every political pundit is using this as an opportunity to condemn gun violence and herald the need for stricter enforcement of gun laws. Community leaders are decrying the lack of support in preventing violent crime, and virtually everyone is pointing a finger at someone.

The unprecedented gun violence that is a veritable epidemic in our area has been in the news, both locally and nationally, for some time now. The rising toll of violent death among the city's children is especially disturbing, and now, with the third Philadelphia police officer killed this year, the recent attention given to our great city has not exactly been positive.

So why blog about this particular story?

Of course the story is horrible, tragic, and affecting.

Of course the officer's reported last words are more than heart wrenching.

Of course we need to finally get behind something or someone that might actually do something proactive for our struggling city (I am hoping Mayor Nutter is that catalyst, but the cynic in me is doubtful).

And of course the mention of his three children, Matt, Steven, and Amber, has every parent holding their own children tighter than usual.

But I think beyond all the sadness, I feel pretty enraged. And it has everything to do with the hackneyed expression so often used by the media when referring to the deceased: "The officer left behind a wife and three children..."

No, he didn't. He didn't do the leaving.

He was taken.

He was taken by three people who, for whatever reason, do not value life.

He was taken from a family who loved him.

He was taken before he had the chance to ever meet his future grandchildren.

And he was taken from a city forever grateful for his service.

I am beyond saddened. I am pretty outraged.

If you are interested in lending your support to the grieveing family:

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Tomorrow, Geno's Steaks, Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue, will begin earmarking
proceeds to help the Liczbinski family. For 24 hours, starting at 10 a.m., money
will be donated from all sales.
Donations can also be sent to: Stephen
Liczbinski Family Memorial Trust Fund, Police & Fire Federal Credit Union,
901 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107

No comments: