I didn’t know Damian Leeding. But I know blokes like him. They’re braver than me. They go to work, not knowing if they’ll make it home.
I’ve knocked around with coppers for the best part of thirty years. Some of my best mates are either in the force, or retired from it.
People my age remember how it used to be. When the local cop ruled the roost. A boot up the bum, or a clip across the ear. Don’t do it again.
Not any more. It’s a different time. Old school is now frowned upon. Not an option. Everything today has to be by the book. Except the crooks are ignoring the script.
One thing hasn’t changed though. The good officers hate the bad guys. With a passion. They despise what they do to innocent people. And they want them off the streets.
I don’t know Damian Leeding’s widow. A police officer herself. But I know women like her. Brave partners, fully aware of the risks.
Can you imagine what it’s like, kissing someone goodbye in the morning, knowing what could lie ahead? Such strength.
As a rule, they don’t discuss those thoughts with others. But it’s always there. The silent fear.
They are incredibly supportive. It’s a tight-knit group. When the unthinkable happens, as it did last week, they grieve as one.
I don’t know Damian Leeding’s parents. But over the years, I’ve met mums and dads like them. So proud, that their son or daughter is willing to take the oathe to protect the rest of us.
Talk to the parents of a soldier, and you’ll find that same emotion. Watching their own take on the toughest of roles. Jobs that must be done.
Listen to what they say, on those awful days when the Hercules returns with another draped coffin. Words dripping with pride, and pain. In equal doses.
It’s never been tougher to be a cop. The crooks they’re chasing are a new breed. On new drugs. Those chemicals frying their brains, have also eliminated any notion of fear.
We have grubs pointing guns at teenagers, trying to make some pocket-money at their fast food restaurant. Or taking on the bloke working the night shift at the local service station. Patrons are being tied up in pubs and clubs. And it seems to be happening every other night.
These cowards carry handguns and shotguns. Knives and iron bars. Even machetes. All aimed at terrifying some poor bugger trying to make an honest dollar.
Well, enough. It’s time we made a noise. Stamped our feet. Let law makers understand that we refuse to accept low lifes getting away with it.
Police need to know we’re behind them. That the overwhelming mob, the silent majority, appreciates what they do for us, every day. Every week.
I didn’t know Damian Leeding. But I know blokes like him. They’ll shed tears for him today. And after a drink to honour his bravery, they’ll go back to work.
Over time, they’ll help with the bills, when the public appeals dry up. They’ll be around, to take Hudson and Grace to Broncos games. All the while, reminding them what a hero their dad was.
Sometime soon, they’ll also look deep inside. To think about how they’ll react, at the next robbery. Only one answer. They’ll do exactly what he did. Prepared for the ultimate sacrifice, to keep us safe. Just like Damian.