He was a giant, both physically and spiritually – perhaps moreso spiritually. His name was Randal Simmons, he was a 27 year veteran of the Los Angeles SWAT team and the first member in its 40 year history to ever be killed. Ten thousand people attended his funeral yesterday, officers from as far away as Australia attended. Gang members, old classmate, politicians, strangers – they all went to honor this man. Why?
Because not only was he excellent at his job he was an excellent human being. He gave to the community, not just as a police officer, sworn to serve and protect – but as a youth minister. He affected hundreds of lives and helped countless youths to get off the fast track to hell and ruination and onto the path of a better life. The day of his death, and for days afterward, there were countless radio broadcasts on talk radio where people who knew him and especially young people whom he had helped called in. The calls would have broken your heart. This was a man who quietly went about his life. He put on his uniform and gun every day and headed out to the mean streets of L.A. but he went out there with an open heart and hand. His goal was to help. And he did.
I know that we all like to complain about cops. When we see them behind us in traffic, our paranoia kicks in and we drive extra careful. When they catch us not quite stopping at the stop sign, we curse under our breath and smile as we sign the copy of the ticket. Then go home and bitch and moan about it to our friends, spouse, family. And we never stop to think about the fact that these men and women literally take their lives in their hands every day for our benefit. To protect us. To keep us safe. We never stop to thank them or wish them a good day. We just take for granted that when something terrible happens they will come to our rescue.
And on that day, Randal Simmons did. A man was holding his family hostage – he had literally lost his mind and had already killed three members of his family. But Officer Simmons and his comrades went anyway. They went to help anyone who might still be alive, they went so that the man wouldn’t kill another human being. Unfortunately, he did kill one more – Randall Simmons. A man who so deserved to live moreso than many others still walking around and enjoying their lives. A man who truly did good in the world. Who cared about the world he lived in and tried to make it a better place, one person at a time.
Angels open arms
rise to their holy welcome
your spirit is home
Rest in peace, Officer Simmons. Thank you for being here and for all that you did for your fellow man. Bless your family.