Brothers and Sisters:
Yesterday morning we all awoke to the tragic news of the St. John Parish Deputies that had been killed and injured earlier that morning. Many of you may not know, but we immediately started resources and supplies in that direction. Our very own Sheriff went and met with Sheriff Tregre to offer his support. Not many Sheriffs have had to walk in their shoes and bury multiple deputies in a few short days. As the news continued to spread, the brothers and sisters who represent that blue line did the same thing we did. Not knowing what to do or how we could help, we just felt compelled to respond. As an agency, we just felt the need to help.
As the morning grew, we learned that two very young Deputies had lost their lives. We also learned that two more were fighting for theirs in area hospitals. As I made my rounds through the offices, many of us tried our very best to get our work done, but at the same time stop to watch the TV for any updates or news releases that might answer our questions of how and why.
Many of you might think that yesterday was just another day for us. Though you might not have realized it, I can assure you our anxiety and nervousness was a tragic reminder of our very own agency just a few short years ago.
It is in these difficult times we find our own inner strength. We also learn how very fragile life can be. During my 30 plus years as a Law Enforcement Officer, I have seen many times the tragic aftermath of those horrible wake up calls. Sadly, I have received too many of those calls since 2007. All day yesterday I thought about where I was when Hilary and Beau were killed. I thought over and over of the grief I felt for Sharon, Jack Tanner’s wife, and the family of Paul Becnel. I am reminded of something our Sheriff once said: “You will never get over it, you will only learn to live with it.”
Last night, as I pulled into my driveway, I realized how we take life for granted. My dog ran up to my car, my wife and son pulled into the driveway behind me and, as a family, we all went inside taking for granted that we would eat supper with each other again.
It is during these times you will have to learn to draw on your faith. The same faith that we hope and pray will get our brothers and sisters in St. John through this difficult time. My 12 year old son does not realize why my eyes became teary when I hugged him yesterday afternoon. My wife thinks she does, but she really doesn’t. Make sure sometime today you call a love one, someone you have not spoken to in a few days. Let them know you thought about them as you read this letter. Tell them you do love them, even if there has been a quarrel or strife in the past. Most importantly, each morning before you leave your house, take the time to hug each neck and tell them how much you love them. Make sure they have no doubt where they stand in your life. In this sometimes evil world, tomorrow is not promised to any one of us.
I have chosen to draw my strength through scripture. In John 15:13, it tells us that we are to love each other as Jesus loved us, and he loved us enough to give his life for us. We may not have to die for someone, but there are other ways to practice sacrificial love: listening, helping, encouraging, giving. Think of someone in particular who needs this kind of love today. Give all the love you can and then try to give a little more.
The true test of faith comes when trusting that faith is the only thing that will get you through the burden in front of you. It is by God’s grace that we have all made it to work today. It will be by God’s grace that we all make it home tonight. But it will be our choice as to what we do with each of these days with which He has chosen to bless us.
The Deputies Association will be offering assistance to the members of the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office. We have chosen to wait until after the funerals when the media has left along with those who initially came to help. From our very own experience we learned it was during that time – those few days after the funerals when everyone left and all the food was eaten – that people expected us just to flip a switch and go back to work and be normal again. That is when we have chosen to be there.
Thank all of you who support the Deputies Association. It is in these times of giving that you should all be proud of your contributions to such noble cause.
Maj. Joe Jarrell
President, St. Tammany Deputies Association