Perspective: A partner’s powerful cry to us all

“This is who we are and this world needs us”

Tim Wenger
October 25, 2017 - 4:03 pm

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty good about being a Buffalonian.  It’s strange, too, given the set of circumstances that led me to this ‘place’ in my mind of late.

We’ve learned a lot over the course of the days following October 13th when Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner died during a training mission with the Underwater Recovery Unit in the Niagara River.  What I learned is that there is a spirit of community that exists here that seemed like it was somehow lost.  There is a sense of togetherness in the air.  And, dare I say, there is a rejuvenated sense of support for the men and women who wear a uniform and take an oath to serve and protect.

The sad part is, it took the tragic death of Officer Lehner to get us to this place.

Think about it.  Just two weeks ago, locally, we were arguing about whether professional athletes should kneel for the national anthem.  Today we listened to our adorned Buffalo Sabres anthem singer Doug Allen perform the anthem acapella before a crowd of emotionally wounded law enforcers and family.  Everyone on their feet.  Most with hand over heart.  Many saluting. 

As I watched and listened to the Lehner funeral inside the Key Bank Center, I was moved most by the words of Lehner’s partner Tommy Champion.  Although I’m saddened that Champion felt the need to say these words, I’m glad he did.  And when you’re done reading his words, read them again.  And then listen to them at the audio link below.  Yes, they are that important and that telling.

“Although sometimes it feels like the world no longer respects the sacrifices we make, scrutinizes us and treats our patriotism and dedication as an anachronism, a relic belonging in the past,  we shall not yield.  We shall not falter.  We will continue working toward a better tomorrow, carrying out the oaths that we all solemnly vowed to.  This is who we are and this world needs us.”

Enough is enough, I say.  No police officer should be led to feel they’ve lost the respect of the public and feel more scrutinized than supported.   Are there examples of police officers and men and women in uniform gone bad?  You bet.  But they are the VAST exception to the rule and are overshadowed by the law and peace officers who show up each and every day to keep us all safe.

I’m not sure about your chosen career path, but I’m willing to bet there are bad apples somewhere in the pile and I’m also certain you don’t want to be judged by the actions of a few in your career field.

Today we mourn the loss of a man who dedicated his adult life to service in the military and service to the Buffalo Police Department in many different and unique ways.

I didn’t know Craig Lehner but after hearing from those who did, he sure seems like the guy we’d all want to be responding to the call when we’re in trouble.

To borrow the words of Tommy Champion once more, “I refuse to say goodbye”.  And I welcome this restored sense of unity and support that seems to be in the air, and only hope it lasts forever.

Let’s all join in unison and repeat the message heard on the BPD frequency after Lehner’s untimely passing, “K9-43 we thank you for your service”.

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