Russ’s Legacy: Ode to a Fallen Officer

An officer confined to a wheelchair unable to speak – talks to you now

We didn’t have much post-academy emergency response or pursuit driving training.  The result was frequently bad actions led by our egos instead of common sense driving based on our limitations and the risks involved in unrestrained police pursuits.

We did some great training after Russ got hurt.  Why does it always seem that it requires such tragedy to motivate federal, state and local governments and police agencies to do the right thing and train their people properly?

Lessons Still to Learn

We mourn, we grieve for Russ but we still have so much to learn from the man.  Such as how to handle life’s most serious roadblocks with such grace, dignity and humor, to put our bad days in perspective of a man who could still love and laugh while unable to speak and move without assistance.

And to slow down, drive under control, consider the risks before and during a pursuit or emergency response and for supervisors, to terminate pursuits before someone gets seriously hurt or killed.  We think we’re invulnerable and it won’t happen to us, so some of our Brothers and Sisters don’t even wear their seatbelts.  Why on Earth do we think we’re special?  How selfish and unprofessional to put our spouses husband or wife or our children’s dad or mother in such risk that we may put our families through such a tragedy as well!

In many ways we forget the Russ’s of our profession.  We don’t want to look because it could possibly happen to us.  How sad that those of us who’ve given so much receive so little from us after their accident, incident or injury.

I’ve struggled with Russ’s passing because I question whether I could have done more.  And so I offer this column to my Brother – Officer Russ Long.  May God hold him in the palm of His hand…until we meet again!

My wish is that you would heed the lessons from Russ.  That you would consider slowing down and driving under control, if not for yourself, for those you love.


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