It’s been a rough week for the Newtown Police Department.
They’ve seen things no one in this country ever has before. In just 7 days they handled 27 murders and a suicide; an inundation of international media, good-hearted helpers and less-welcome curiosity-seekers; nearly 2 dozen funerals, and a visit from the President of the United States.
Fortunately, they did not have to do it alone. The State Police, and a host of federal agencies, have been fantastic.
So too has been the outpouring of support from police departments across Connecticut.
The men and women in Westport blue downplay it, but a number of local officers are volunteering their free time to assist colleagues and friends a few miles north.
They’ve handled countless small tasks in the police station, at schools, during funerals. They’ve eased the incredible burden on the small Newtown force.
They’ve had a front-row view of the devastation one person with a gun can wreak on one town. They’ve seen the horror etched on the faces of everyone who was there last Friday — parents, kids, fellow officers.
But they’ve also seen hundreds of people silently drop off food, toys and cash — then sit in their cars, sobbing. They’ve seen the therapy dogs, the heartfelt hugs, the candles and flowers and teddy bears.
The Westport officers — and their colleagues from many other departments, in big cities and tiny towns — don’t want thanks. They’re not looking for praise. In fact, they will probably be embarrassed to see this story.
They spend their free time in Newtown because their fellow officers need help. They are there because families are suffering, people need them, and there is work to be done.
They volunteer their talents and expertise, their hands and their heads and their hearts and their souls, because they are police officers.
Because they protect and serve.