It is with the deepest of sympathy that I write this message today. Last night, our city lost a hero. San José Police Officer Michael Johnson was shot and killed while serving and protecting us all. My thoughts, love, and prayers go out to his family, friends and fellow officers, and to all those who have lost their lives to violence in our streets.
Just a few months ago, I was working patrol along with Michael and several hundred brave men and women who proudly wear the San José uniform and badge. The loss is indescribable, the pain at times unbearable, and the memories unforgettable. Yet even now, I can hear the cries of sirens running through our city as officers continue to answer our calls for help.
Last night, I attended the midnight patrol briefing. I had no plan, nor words to speak. I couldn't help myself. I simply did not want to go home. Work was where I wanted to go. For the moment, I wished I could put on the uniform again and do whatever I could to help. I know that time for me has passed, but fortunately, it was clear that I wasn't alone. I spoke briefly with my roommate, an eight-year San José Police veteran and member of our Sexual Assaults Investigation Unit. He too told me he was grabbing his gear and heading back to work, after just completing a ten hour day.
When I arrived at the police department, I realized just how many brothers and sisters were feeling the same. Hundreds of our officers stayed behind to help and dozens more left their homes to return to work or even come in on their day off. The midnight briefing was surreal as many officers were just receiving the devastating news. These officers, my friends, were given their orders to grab an available patrol car, head out to the field, and respond to the numerous calls for service that were undoubtedly stacking up by the minute.
For Michael Johnson and all San José Police Officers, the reality of the risks are made clear every day. Each day that an officer walks down the hall to the briefing room, they pass by the photos of every San José officer who has given their life in the line of duty. In the middle of these photos is a plaque engraved with a quote from the former San José Police Chaplin Dave Bridgen. It reads:
"It's okay to feel anger, and to feel the pain and frustration of grief. But, if Gene and Gordie were with us, they would be the first to say, 'We chose our profession. We knew the danger. We were aware of the possibilities. We knew and we wouldn't trade it away. Stand up. Stand tall. Be proud of the uniform. We are family and even though we are gone, don't let us down. Stand Fast.'"
San José Officers Gene Simpson and Gordon Silva both died in the line of duty on January 20, 1989, after being shot just outside of where city hall sits today. And today, I sit on the 18th floor of City Hall, safely at work without a vest or gun. No longer does my mother have a sense of fear or feel the need to text me every day before work and say, "be safe, I love you." I am here today in large part because of the men and women of the police department that stood with me and supported me. I am safe today because they continue to suit up and take the risks to protect us all.
I can't describe the respect, admiration, and love that I feel for the men and women of our police department, for Michael and his family. I offer my most sincere condolences to Michael's family and my immense gratitude to all our officers who continue to risk their lives for us today.
District 3 Councilmember, City of San José