Friday, December 7, 2012

But for the grace of God

Last night I watched a great piece of television drama. Episode 227 of the multi award winning cop show, Blue Heelers. The episode called "The grace of God" focused on the murder of a police officer while on duty, the reactions of his family and his colleagues, and the subsequent hunt for his killer. One of the reasons Blue Heelers was such a popular series is that it was a very realistic portrayal of the lives of a group of police officers in a country town, but as real and as intense as this show and especially this episode were, in the end it was only fiction. Made for entertainment.

Two days ago in Sydney a feud between neighbours about a  bird aviary allegedly caused a violent altercation which resulted in the death of police Inspector Bryson Anderson. The 45 year old veteran was well known and well respected in his local community where he was heavily involved in charity work. Described by NSW police chief, Andrew Scipione as an excellent officer and a damn fine bloke, Anderson responded to a phone call about arrows being fired into someone's backyard by their neighbours. Within moments of arriving at the scene he was struck in the back of the head with a knife and died a short time later.

I feel incredibly sad and heavy hearted as I write this. These kinds of stories are shocking and depressing. However, I am not the wife of Inspector Bryson Anderson, who kissed him goodbye as he went to work but never saw him alive again. Nor am I one of his children who will have to grow up without their father because of a completely unjustified act of violence. I'm not one of Inspector Anderson's friends or colleagues, the latter saying to themselves that it could have been them, but for the grace of God.

When those whose job it is to protect us are killed in the line of duty, we all feel vulnerable. Police don't simply maintain order in society, they represent it. They do not merely enforce the law, they symbolize it. More than doing their best to keep our streets safe, they personify security, they epitomize safety. I don't know how they do it but I'm glad they are there, and they have my undying respect and gratitude.