Those left behind now pay a price bought with Samborski's blood. His infant child will never know her father. His wife is now a widow. With strength from God above, Samborski's dad gave a eulogy at the funeral that was beyond moving, coupled with an expression of gratitude for the love poured out by his son's brothers/sisters in blue. He never knew what The Brotherhood meant. He does now.
No good deed goes unpunished. Harrrumphhh!
When a person asks for a break, as they often do, we must develop some intuitive responses geared to ensuring our safety.
- Keep your guard high. You might even want to raise it above your normal level of suspicion and awareness.
- Stay professional. You have not suddenly become buddies with the subject.
- Stay positive in your approach. Provide encouragement. If the subject says they are trying to clean up or change their lives, learn how. You might offer ideas on other steps or support that are available.
- Thugs like Belton are street savvy. They grew up there. They know how to manipulate the good people to get what they want.
- Because of their past encounters with authority and their successful attempts to circumvent it, they are practiced. They are emboldened by their successes.
- They often have "puppy dog eyes," knowing that their facial expressions, hand gestures, and other non-verbal signs will play directly on your emotions.
- Like a good salesman, they have a response to any and every approach that is in your playbook. They are good at making it look like this is their first time, when in reality, they have played this game all of their lives.
When you are asked for a break, you are called upon to immediately raise your sensory awareness. You have only moments to discern if you are dealing with a good person who has made a mistake OR a dirtbag who will do and say whatever they need in order to escape your grasp.
Sometimes you will be right. Sometimes you will be wrong.
Do not let your mistakes shake your core values.
I believe that most people want to do the right thing. I said MOST PEOPLE, realizing that we seldom come in contact with the law-abiding, church-going, citizens that respect others, respect property, and respect authority. Still, by default, I expect good intentions from everyone until they give me a reason to believe otherwise.
Whatever your core beliefs, hold on to them. It has taken a lifetime for you to develop those beliefs and you should not let a few scum-bags steal them from you.
Samborski's was the first cop funeral my pal, Matt, had ever attended. We talked about it afterward. He said he could never have anticipated the ache that the funeral service would cause in his heart and mind.
He attended Samborski's funeral with thousands of other cops in uniform. He was seated in the front row at the church. As Samborski's dad delivered the eulogy, he saw his brothers choking as tears ran down their faces - a sight previously unimaginable. Matt put his head into his hands. He found his own way to deal with the immense grief while remembering that he had faced an identical situation only days before. "It could have been me," Matt said.
"Yes, it could. Life is fragile. Always remember," was my only response.
Mason Samborski's name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. in May. His name will be read one last time at the Final Roll Call of officers at the Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday, May 13, 2009.
His parents and likely many of his co-workers will be there out of respect.
I encourage you to be there to support them and others who have experienced a similar tragedy in 2008.
I will be there and I will be hoping to see you.