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LETTER: Retired Deputy Defends Fallen Police Officers

Marc Eaton expresses the importance of thanking police officers for service.

One retired Harford County sheriff's deputy expressed disappointment in the response some people had to the recent deaths of Harford County law enforcement officers.

September has been a deadly month for members of Harford County law enforcement.

Three Harford County sheriff's deputies and one Aberdeen Police officer died in incidents both on- and off-duty within an 8-day period between Sept. 6 and Sept. 13.

Marc Eaton, a retired sheriff's office deputy, submitted the following letter to Patch after negative comments on articles about these deaths caught his attention.

Here is the letter unedited and printed in full:

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.......

To all the misguided people who think it is necessary to try and hurt family members of my fallen brothers I ask you to read the following and then post your comments:

Apply for the academy and complete a six month training academy. Now put on the uniform and do the job. Then and only then can you have an opinion on what police officers endure and how we live our lives (or how we die.) Stand and listen while final call is given. Have your knees get week and your emotions overwhelm you when you realize you will never hear that ID number or voice again. Watch as the widow and her small child sit as the flag is folded and it is presented to her. For most of you it ends after reading an article or watching a news story. For my fellow officers it will continue for years because everyday it is a reminder that their brother or sister is gone. They will live with guilt wondering if there was something they could have done to save their life.
To add insult to injury many of us can't even take off to mourn because protecting the community continues.

A police officer is not super human. He or she is just a human who has dedicated their life to serve and protect people. A six month academy is just training in order to do the job. All police officers are continually training and learning new things. The uniform does not give any of us super human strength or extra wisdom. You don’t do it for the money because the pay is not worth the job. What do you think a fair wage would be knowing when you kiss your family goodbye it might be the last time? Police Officers do this job for one reason: To serve and protect and hope that you can change someones life by saving it.

As I read these comments it angers me. Its hard for me to comprehend that I gave 22 years and would have risked my own life to save yours. Is this truly your ‘thank you note” to my fallen brothers? Is this really the very best that you can do? Maybe a cop never pulled you out of a burning vehicle. Maybe a cop never was first on the scene to your drug overdose. Chances are good that your life has been affected by law enforcement in a positive way, but you never knew it. Many of you count speeding tickets and those are the stones of hate you throw at us. Maybe that DUI that cost you $5,000 in lawyer fees has your britches in a knot. Truth? I don’t care! I was not only saving you the day you were locked up for reckless driving I was trying to save the family of 5 in a mini van that you would have killed!

We are a brotherhood and we stand together in good times and bad. We are strong and we will endure as we always have. We will always support each other. No matter what some of you think about us we will protect you with our lives. We are proud.
We are that “thin blue line” and we are forever strong.

Marc A Eaton, R189
Retired Deputy Sheriff Harford County Maryland
Owings Mills, MD

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Samantha September 17, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Thank you for your letter. It strikes such a chord in my heart because I too sit here and read the comments feeling as though the anonymity of the internet allows cowards to voice their opinions without having to look folks in the eye. My colleague passed away last week in an accident and it saddens me to read comments on the article posted here. The ignorance, the cruelty of the comments, they ruin what is my go-to source for local news. Please, if you have something to say, think twice about it. Consider not only your own arrogant opinion, but remember to respect our fellow citizens in times of mourning.
RUSS WILSON September 17, 2012 at 08:49 PM
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES DEPUTY. I GAVE 33 YEARS TO BALTIMORE CITY AND WILL SAY THE GOOD CITIZENS ARE IN FEAR TO SHOW APPRECIATION TO THOSE STILL SERVING. IT IS THE TOUGH ONES THAT YELL THE LOUDESS BECAUSE THEY KNOE THE OTHERS WILL NOT CONTEST. GOD BLESS THOSE STILL SERVING.
Philip Einhorn September 17, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Well said Marc, there are times when a police officer or deputy is not appreciated until someone is in need. Our deputies and police officers are every bit as important to keeping our citizens safe as our members of the armed forces. We need both and we should show our gratitude to them when ever we get the chance. The next life they save may be your own.
Sheeple September 17, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Apply for the academy and complete a six month training academy. Now put on the uniform and do the job. Then and only then can you have an opinion. Sorry Marc, but what you are saying is I can't talk about a bad football call because I'm not referee, I can't critize the president because I have never been president? Everybody has the right to their opinion no matter how twisted it may be. I did not make any comments except that I felt that it was line of duty when the first deputy was killed because he was in a sheriffs car. I take exception to being told that I or anybody else does not have an opinion because I'm not a cop.
Kimberly Savard September 17, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Well said, and thanks to all police officers, firefighters, and military who put everyone else's safety ahead of their own.
Ray September 17, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Couldnt of said it better brother. Thankyou for speaking up and telling the truth about law enforcment. We are not super heros, just everyday men deticated to our familys and community. Thank you and god bless you and all who serve and have served and will serve in the future.
Theresa Fielder September 17, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Some people have no filter, class or respect towards others.
Julie September 17, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I have not seen the posts, but just the thought appalls me! I know several State Trooper, Harford County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City Officers and my hat is off to each and everyone of you. You do a great job serving and protecting us! keep up the terrif work. And may God Bless and protect each and everyone of you and your families!
sheeples friend : ) September 17, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Okay so let me break it down to you......we dont get on the obituary websites and write nasty comments about how granny smith died we dont say what in awful drunk they were or complain how they died. Its respect something you dont have its one thing to complain about football, presidents, and you are allowed to have your own opinion you just need to know when to have one and when not to have one!!!! so put your real name up let me know when your relatives drop and ill give you a taste of your own opinion : )
Sheila Rinker-Nesbit September 18, 2012 at 12:13 AM
That was a beautiful letter, my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all law enforcement, fire department, and military that go out day after day. They dedicated their lives to protect, serve, and help you. These men have lost their lives, why would anyone be so ignorant and disrespectful. Leave the Family, Friends, Co-workers, and Community alone and allow us to mourn and heal. One day you will need the assistance of one and I bet you will not refuse. So I ask you as a citizen of Harford County to have respect and keep your negative comments off and allow all of us to heal. No, I am not Law enforcement and not married or related but I do have respect for them and what they do for all of us.
Billy Smetana Spu September 18, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Truly agree. Thanks Marc
Allen Lovelace September 18, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Well said Marc. I have been a law enforcement officer for more than 35 yrs and it has been a very rewarding career with several different agencies. I started as a Military Police Officer at 18 yrs old, was a federal police officer and I went to that 6 month Academy with Marc Eaton. I spent 27 yrs as a Harford County Deputy Sheriff. As in all jobs it had its ups and downs. I worked with many people I loved and some I may not have loved as much, but one thing I always knew thaty all of them would have my back when I was in trouble.. I think the the HCSO is one of the best agencies around and I am proud to have served. I knew both of the Deputies who died and it stains thier memories when people who know nothing about our job think they do and make such comments.
Allen Lovelace September 18, 2012 at 12:42 AM
sheeples friend, very good point
Megan B September 18, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Very well said Marc! As a police officers wife and former Deputy myself, I have nothing but respect for the men and women in blue. I personally attended 2 of the viewings and funerals last week. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life and this week will only continue the heart ache. Knowing each day that it may be the last that I see my husband, or even that the job could eventually take over his health or life, is very stressful and terrifying. Those who want to speak negatively of any police officer, alive or passed, should be ashamed of themselves. All I have to say to those who want to bad mouth police is...when the time comes for you to dial 911, please put your phone down and figure out your emergency yourself, because you do not deserve a moment of their time trying to help you. Again, great letter Marc and God Bless!
Jason September 18, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I am someone who has gotten a speeding ticket. I have been caught drinking when I should not have been. Police officers in this county have arrested me. They were doing their job. I was busy learning a lesson. Took a little while to sink in. I've always had respect for the law and those that protect it and the community. Never would I bad mouth an officer. An above post stated it correctly. Cowards behind a "firewall". Kids will be kids and ignorant. My kids will not grow up this way. Thank you and all your brothers and sisters for protecting us.
Laura - PCO September 18, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Some people cannot see past their own noses. Do speeding tickets suck? Sure. Does a DUI suck? Absolutely. But if you were driving too fast or intoxicated and killed someone or multiple people, you would be PRAYING and BEGGING to go back in time and just get a ticket or just get a DUI. To compare a police officer to a football player is ridiculous. Football is for your entertainment. Those athletes get paid insane amounts of money to play a game they love. I am a football fan as much as the next person, and no disrespect meant by this comment but, as much as he defends our Ravens, Ray Lewis isn't going to show up at your house in the middle of the night because you called 911 because someone is breaking into your house to harm you and your family. Check out the starting salary for a police officer. They work 24/7, doesn't matter if it's a holiday, their's kid's birthday, their wedding anniversary. They put themselves in harms way constantly. To disrespect the death of anyone is just plain disgusting. Respect seems to be something that is fading away into the past. I know that I will raise my children to have repect and manners. I plead that you all do as well. Thank you to every member of the law enforcement family for every thing that you do every single day.
Terry September 18, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Marc, that is the absolute best "report" you have ever written! Every word is accurate and to the point.
Jess September 18, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I majored in Criminal Justice, and ultimately decided not to become a police officer because I was unwilling to make the sacrifice required to do it. I admit, I wanted the comfort and freedom to be off on Christmas, to stay home with my children, to have an uninterrupted lunch hour, and to punch out and leave work at work. I realized I did not have what it takes to put on a uniform that doesn't make me any better than you, but yet, to be held to a higher level of criticism and scrutiny nonetheless. I did not want to be required to keep a level head when an unrepentant criminal causes harm to the innocent. I did not want to look at the gruesome wreckage of a family's car accident and hold onto my breakfast anyway. I did not think I could put on that uniform everyday, and thanklessly work a job that would tax my health, impact my family, and subject me endlessly to the sometimes ignorant speculation of the public. I have nothing but the highest respect for the people that commit their lives to doing that job, and doing it well. This is America. You have the freedom to your opinion. You also have the freedom to be callous and insensitive. Hopefully, however, you'll use your freedom to educate yourself, and spend your time making wise and sensitive observations, rather than running you mouth and saying pointless and hurtful things. But hey...at least the police will be there to arrest the outraged person that punched you in the mouth for being a moron.
megan hawkins September 18, 2012 at 03:36 AM
my granfather , sgt. Wallace Mowbray, was a st trooper killed in the line of duty while protecting and serving. EOW 1975 and 35yrs later we still mourn him and keep his memory alive it effects a family and the genertions to come. thank you for your and fallen officers for their service
Sheri Ferguson September 18, 2012 at 05:42 AM
Marc thank you for speaking up for the Thin Blue Line. I respect the Uniform and what it stands for, you guys should be paid far more for what you provide your respective Counties. The same goes for Firefighters. It is a shame that so many people are without filters and thoughtless, and to my way of thinking - almost cruel in their mindset. My brother-in-law is a City officer and loves his job but knows what he walks into every day. As I'm sure every Officer does. This death / these deaths were so senseless and I can only hope; 95% + of Harford County is mourning these losses with the remaining percentages going to those who speak before they think. Thank you for your years of Service and Protection. Enjoy your retirement - you earned it.
Jill Bracewell September 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Thank you for such great and true words. Maybe people need to remember what their 1st instinct is when trouble happens...what is it???? Oh yes, to call 911!! Thank you to all my friends and family in various police and fire uniforms throughout the State of Md...I hope each of you know how much you mean to me.
mark t. ward September 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Those who input negative, hurting comments to anyone's death are deranged individuals hurting inside themselves. They do not speak for us all, only themselves, the majority know the extreme danger, long hours and countless sacrifice our Police face daily. Verbal revenge directed back at Law Enforcement Personal are cowered less self expressions. I thank you and your family for your dedication to us all. Thank You Mark T. Ward
Sheeple September 18, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I never said one negative thing about any of the police officers who have died in the last few days. I pointed out that people can have an opinion no matter how twisted it is. You can't have opinion on fact," like line of duty extends 24 hours after shift" and that was my only post on the whole matter, but I don't care to be told I have no opinion because I'm not a cop or by you for that matter. I.have an opinion, that's why we elect a Sheriff so the opinion of the people gets filterd down thru the agency.
Hollee Sifford September 18, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I had the pleasure of speaking with a Aberdeen police officer over the week-end and let me tell you ALL of these officers from EVERY branch are very saddened and are mourning the loss of their fellow officer.How ANYONE can minimize this tragedy is beyond me...wheather or not on duty or off they have lost their lives and their familes and children have lost their father/husband.....As far as I am concerned police officers are on duty 24/7 and I want to send my condolences to all officers and their familes and to the ones who survive daily in this crazy world.....I APPRECIATE YOUR SERVICES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Curtis Coon September 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
We are all human; first responders and the average guy. At the same time, we should all be ready to make sacrifices for our fellow men, women and children. What I find amazing is the concept that only those who wear uniforms make sacrifices. True, theirs is more apparent, but the lifeguard at the beach puts their life in danger, as does every teacher, especially given recent events at disarming students. In the end, we all need to remember that any of us can be called upon to pull someone out of a car wreck, or lend a hand to someone in need. Uniforms mean something but not everything.
Deanne Snodgrass September 18, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I had the honor of being a regular citizen touched by one of the officers recently killed. Officer Licato was at the scene when i rear-ended a woman the day i was closing on my house in Bel Air. I was in a rush and just didn't know the roads. A red light caught me off guard and i hit the woman. The officer gave her the option of whether or not i received a reckless driving ticket. He didn't have to do that, it was kind. I appreciate all those that serve; officers, doctors and nurses, firefighters, military members, teachers and others that i may have omitted unintentionally.
Patricia Cantler September 18, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Bravo Mr. Eaton, wonderful words. In my line of work I have the pleasure of working with all the different law enforcement agencies in this county and I have to laugh at them when they say to me that they would never want to do my job. I let them know that my job is NOTHING compared to the job that they do and I thank them when ever I can. Thank you Mr. Eaton for your time served and thank you to all the other police officers that are protecting us now.
Mary white September 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I too Appreciate all of our hard working under paid Officers. Your services are more than appreciated. I'm here to tell everyone, I would not be here writing this if it wasn't. For the Harford County Police Officers saving me from myself, in my younger years. Thank you to all those officers for opening my eyes, and God Bless and comfort the family's of those we have lost. Mary Christensen, Shenberger,.
MARY ANN January 29, 2013 at 08:06 AM
Mary Ann I KNOW FIRST HAND THE TOLL IT TAKES ON POLICE OFFICERS.BUT. I HAVE ALSO SEEN OFFICERS WALK AWAY FROM FAMILIES AND HAVE NO REMORSE FOR THE CHILDREN THEY HAVE LEFT SCARED. THEY START ANEW TIME AND TIME AGAIN FORGETTING THE VICTIMS THEY USED IN THE PAST. KEEP IN MIND NOT ONLY IS THE COP A HERO EVERY FAMILY MEMBER AND CHILD LIVE WITH SCARS ALSO.

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