CF: I would have to say it had been invented before '84 but it certainly has been improved upon ever since, and that would be bullet-resistant vests. They used to be bulkier and uncomfortable. Fewer officers were willing to wear the vests because of that. And as the technology improved, and as the technology improved and the vests became lighter weight and more comfortable to wear, more officers started wearing them. And as a result, many lives were saved. I mentioned in the last 20 years or so, we've saved more than 3, 000 law enforcement lives because those officers were wearing those vests. So I think vests are clearly the No. 1 piece of safety equipment that any officer can have protecting them against criminal assault but also against traffic accidents. A lot of vests have saved officers from the blunt force trauma when they hit the steering column. So it's not just the shooting that they'll protect you from but a lot of other reasons.
And then the other piece of equipment that was invented since '84 that I think has tremendously improved the safety of our officers is Taser stun guns. These stun guns allow officers to keep a safe distance from a resisting felon and as a result officers don't have to engage in hand-to-hand combat with those criminals. I've talked to many officers who tell me that other than their lethal weapon that they carry with them on their gun belt, there's no [other] important piece of equipment that they have than that Taser stun gun because criminals just don't resist when they know you have the Taser and they know you'll use it. And those criminals that do resist, you keep a safe distance from them and you tase them to get them to reply to your request that they put their hands behind their back or whatever else the request might be. [They] basically give themselves up so that you can make the arrest without a violent confrontation. So Taser stun guns I think are No. 2 to the vests in terms of importance in reducing injuries and fatalities to officers.
But I think ultimately, you can't discount training. We are so much better today about training our officers, preparing them for these very dangerous situations that they are going to confront that they're able to deal with them much more effectively and safely. So certainly better training coupled with the better equipment has really made a difference in saving police lives.
TW: After 27 years, what motivates you to get to work everyday?
CF: Well, right now I want to make sure we build this national law enforcement museum. It's quite a challenge and quite a privilege but it's hard work and we're doing our best to make sure that museum gets built. So that drives me everyday to want to get up and raise money and raise awareness and get more partners on board and collect more artifacts and I can't wait to see that museum open. Because when it does it's going to change the way people think about law enforcement in this country. So it's been a big motivator to me and to this organization for the last 10 years.
TW: OK. And then I was going to see if, when I ask you what is one of the most memorable stories that you tell that's related to your job, whether it be something you remember of a police week of years past or maybe a conversation with a particular officer or any kind of story that you remember from your career that would be enlightening or you know someone in a different career would not have come into contact with or learned?
CF: That reminds me of a story years ago from my early days on the job. I met a woman named Vivian Eney and Vivian had lost her husband named Chris Eney who was a sergeant with the U.S. Capitol police. He was the first U.S. Capitol police officer to die in the line of duty. He was shot and killed during a training exercise. And I went and I talked about this memorial that we were planning to build at that time and Vivian was part of this survivor group that I talking to and I told the group how much we cared about them and wanted to remember their fallen loved one and we wanted to build this memorial to do so. And Vivian called me, I didn't know her at the time, but she called me an hour or so later and said that she was angry. She did not necessarily believe people did care as much as I had said we did. And she had a bad experience. Her husband, when he died, didn't get any notes of condolence from members of Congress. She didn't get the kind of expressions of condolence that she might have anticipated. And she felt that people didn't really care. And it took awhile to convince Vivian, but ultimately she became a member of our board of directors and she helped us build the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. And she became a real leader in the effort and she remains one of my closest friends to this day. And Vivian's story reminded me and impressed upon me one thing: A card or a phone call—anything at that moment of time when you're suffering like a survivor does when they lose a loved one is important. And I said to myself that day, if a note, card, condolence or a phone call could mean that much to a surviving family member at the time of their loved one's death, if it could mean that much to them, then what would a national monument, what would a national memorial mean to them? What would a national law enforcement museum mean to them? And I realized how important these symbols are—it's not just a symbol, it goes far beyond that. It really makes a statement to these survivors that their loss is shared by all of us, that we will always remember and honor their loved one, and that we will always remember and honor them, the survivors left behind. So that was always a very important moment in my life that I had an awakening about how important this memorial was going to become. And it made me that much harder to build it and we're doing it still to this day.