Category Archives: pastor

Funeral of Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper

I just wanted to write a note about today’s events. I know it’s long, but it’s worth the read.It was an exhausting day, physically but more so emotionally.

I arrived at the Miami Township Police Department and was greeted my Major DiPietro. I went to the mall with Sgt. Nienhaus and we gathered there as a group before leaving. Met up with Mike Siney over there. We had somewhere around 75 cars there from various departments all over. I was already starting to feel honored just being in these people’s presence. A group of cops grieving and doing a mission of honor for a sister, and I was allowed to come along for the ride.

When we met up at the Navistar plant, only then did I realize the enormity of the support among her brothers and sisters in blue, most of who she never met or knew. Cops from all over the state. Later I’d find out, all over the country. We left there at 9:45 and took over an hour to get to the church, just a few miles away. Here is where the community support began to be noticed. Small children waving from car windows parked along the route. Businesses “Closed to Honor Deputy Hopper”. Veterans standing at attention saluting the procession. And hundreds of people waving at us from the side of the road.

Once we arrived at the church, to see the sea of officers in support of Deputy Hopper. Here is where I saw officers from the Chicago Police, Yonkers NY Police, Maryland and the Kentucky State police. The enormity of the moment began to set in on me. The first tears came here. Sheriff Kelly spoke magnificently, and did her son, and husband.

We waited outside to begin out journey to the cemetery. I talked to some of the guys from Huber Heights and Trotwood. Good to see familiar faces at such an event. Sitting in the parking lot in a sea of cars with lights flashing as the casket was brought out and as we followed one by one was a very moving experience. I can’t explain it to you. Watching the video won’t even give you the full affect. It took more than 2 hours to get to the cemetery. The route was lined with all sorts of folks out in the cold and snow holding up signs of support for the officers. The most moving part is the graveside ceremony. I was surrounded by a sea of blue.And felt the shot from the guns on the salute. And cried as the bagpipes played amazing grace.

I never knew (or met as far as I know) Deputy Hopper.But she knew about me. You know that from my previous note. But this was closer to me. She was one of my officers. Her loss caused some pain to me. Not like that experienced by family or the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. I can’t explain it to you. I can’t tell you how it feels. But these guys are my guys. And alot of the officers in the crowd had read emails from me. They wouldn’t recognize me, but they are my officers too. Pastor Pat has talked about Ministry in such a way that you have ownership over a city. That you feel it’s pain and that you hear it cry to you at night. These officers are that to me. I see them, hear them and feel the pain and sometimes frustration they feel. And when you stand and walk among them, it’s an indescribable feeling.

So I was taken back by the awesomeness of what I saw and felt today. It was good to see the support of a community, but why can’t they see that everyday, without the grief and loss? I also pray that I will never have to see it again. Their jobs are painful enough at times. Lets pray that they be spared form the grief again.

What can’t you stand?

A few days ago I went to our church’s Wednesday night Leader session titled, “The Leadership State of Mind”. Having been in the church for over 10 years, I’ve heard a lot on leadership. A lot of great stuff. But this one was particularly life impacting.

“When leaders understand the stakes everybody wins.”
“Leaders intercept entropy – the lack of order and predictability, the gradual decline into disorder.”
“Out of the furnace of frustration, we forge leadership metal.”

He talked about examples of leaders: men like Moses, Billy Graham and Popeye. Some of us probably grew up watching Popeye. Olive Oyl was the special girl in his life. Popeye’s demeanor was usually calm and collected. But if something happened that would potentially harm her, he exploded. He would shout, “That’s all I can stand, and I can’t stands no more!”
The he asked the question: “What is it that you can’t stand?”.

Now for those of you who don’t know me, let me say this before I continue. I think about cops a lot. When I see one, I say hi and usually introduce myself. I spend a Friday night per month riding along with one of my local departments. And when one gives the ultimate sacrifice, I post my condolences, and I always contact their department. And at a police officer funeral, I learned some important lessons about life.

So tonight was no different. Police Week 2010. My next ride along in Miamisburg. Who’s next : Riverside or Dayton? Officer suicide. Lots of things were going through my mind when he asked the questions:”What is it that you can’t stand?” “What is it that wrecks you?” At that point something happened inside me. Tears came to my eyes. My heart ached at the thought.

What is it that I can’t stand? What “wrecks” me?
I can’t stand the thought of a cop sitting lonely in their cruiser on Christmas morning.
It “wrecks me” that a cop somewhere wondering if their life matters.
I can’t stand the thought that over 30% of officers have thought about suicide.
It “wrecks me” that officers are killing themselves at a rate more than twice as high as the general public.

Before you say “Well Mike, that could be true of Army vets, or___________________”. You may be right. But I’m not sent to them. I am sent to Police Officers. I try to encourage them whenever I can. I tell them that there are good people. What I really want them to know is that someone cares. I care.

It’s my goal that no officer in Ohio or Kentucky will ever have to wonder if they are appreciated. That no officer on a beat on Christmas morning will wonder if anyone cares if they are out there. That no officer who has a 2 year marriage and a newborn who gets to spend a couple of hours on a holiday with his young family will go to work and wonder why.

Update on me

Guess it’s about time for an update.

First, I’m working on a project for some folks who really deserve it. On the 7th Anniversary of 9-11, I called my local Police department, Huber Heights. I asked it the dispatcher could pass a message to all the on duty police and fire fighters that I was thinking about them and appreciate them. She had been s dispatcher for 14 years and had never had that kind of request. So that made me think…

Now I’m contacting every police and fire department within 50 miles of my house. I’m getting a POC email address for each department and will send holiday greetings, and words of encouragement to those people who selflessly give so I can spend the holidays with my family. I have descided that no Police or Fire Fighter working a holiday in my city will not know that they are appreciated.

And if you’re reading this and you are an officer or fire fighter, and you’d like to recieve it (regardless of where you are), just drop me a line.