San Diego Police Officer Christopher Wilson.
FEATURED IN TRAINING
Every line-of-duty death is the ultimate tragedy in policing. When you lose a true veteran with superb skills and commitment, the tragedy is compounded by a great loss to the entire community. Such is the case with the death of San Diego Police Officer Christopher Wilson, who died on Thursday morning while assisting SD County probation officers.
Several shots were fired at officers as they entered a bedroom in a small apartment in one of the city’s most challenged areas. Wilson was mortally wounded and later died at a local hospital. Doctors were able to keep him alive long enough for his family to tell him good-bye.
The specific details of how Officer Wilson died are not the subject of this editorial. Rather, it is important that he be recognized for doing something that is increasingly rare in our profession. Wilson spent his entire 17 years in the tough and dangerous Southeastern division because he loved the job and he loved the people.
He served in every sense of the word, focusing on being a great street cop and giving back. He could have promoted, he could have transferred, but he didn’t because he knew where he was needed and he was committed to serving those who needed him the most. That sense of duty and commitment extended to the important task of being a field training officer, a job he was doing the night he was slain.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who spent six years as the chief at SDPD, was visibly shaken at a press conference when he described Wilson’s dedication and professionalism. Sanders noted that fellow officers frequently referred to Wilson as “good cover.” Once again, the desire to serve others, whether citizens or officers, was clear.
We tend to canonize officers who die in the line-of-duty but in this case, every laudatory phrase that can be invoked is entirely appropriate. A true public servant gave his life for his community, not just on the day of his death but every day of a seventeen-year career.
Like each line-of-duty death, lessons will be learned from this heartbreaking tragedy. Beyond the tactical lessons, though, is the importance of commitment and service. Officer Chris Wilson died doing what he loved to do, what he was born to do – serving the citizens of San Diego.
Next time you head to work, focus on the word “service” and put forward your best efforts to make the jurisdiction where you serve better and safer. Let Officer Wilson inspire you. For every bad guy who wants to criticize or hurt you, there are hundreds of good people who truly depend on you.