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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1

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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1


WORDS BY REX EVANS True Meaning of “AFTERMATH” You hear people speak of the term “Aftermath” all the time. The section you’re reading at this moment is in fact named “aftermath” and solely dedicated to this term. However, just one word never seems to quite capture or quantify all that is encompassed in the meaning of the word, aftermath. Many a law enforcement officer has suffered from what he/ she as seen, felt, smelled and ultimately endured. For every officer, there are different levels of this thing called, aftermath. Some just have a moment of pause. Others have outright nightmares or terrible wandering daydreams whereby they must stop for a moment and completely regroup. Some might just call it what it is – PTSD. One such aftermath occurred for me many years ago, 1998 to be exact. I was a Deputy for Harris County Pct. 1 and worked with my best friend Michael. The two of us, along with multiple of others, applied for positions with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (this was a long time ago under a different Constable and different Sheriff). As fate would have it, I was the first to be accepted to the HCSO and I accepted the offer. Just behind me was my best friend, at least that was the plan. Unfortunately, in late September of that year my best friend was killed in the Line of Duty trying to affect an arrest, in the course of a traffic stop. To say the least I was devastated. I felt as though I had failed, abandoned and lost my friend forever. For years, I had carried a lot of guilt, self-imposed blame and shame for the loss of his life. I wasn’t there that fateful night because my application had been approved ahead of his and I was already at Harris County. I truly felt as though I had abandoned my post, my duty and my friend. I soon discovered the violator’s vehicle and occupants Michael had stopped I had stopped on traffic just a few weeks earlier. I issued the driver of the vehicle and the occupants’ multiple citations. Why they never took me on or tried to kill me, I’ll never understand or know, but back in ’98, the jail wasn’t accepting ANY class “C” misdemeanors and in fact due to jail overcrowding, pretty much all misdemeanors were being refused. Some years later, Michael’s parents were at the Peace Officer Memorial in Austin. I was in attendance with the HCSO Honor Guard. After the ceremony was over, I walked up and told them who I was and explained how awful, ashamed and full of guilt I was. Through my tears his dad grabbed my arm and pulled me close and said “Son, this wasn’t your fault. The only one to blame for Mike’s death is the man who pulled the trigger that night.” I had felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and my heart. He and his wife had always taken Mike, Joel Caldwell and me in as their own. They loved us, cared about us and never forgot us. For that I am eternally grateful. To this very day, Mike’s folks are like a second set of parents I am so lucky to have. They continue to love me, support me and keep me on track. They have steadfastly done the same for Joel, as well. Deputy Constable Michael Eakin was, and shall always be, one of the finest men I ever had the honor and had the privilege to serve with. Perhaps more importantly, he was and shall always be, one of my best friends. He and Joel were my “Running Buddies”, and Lord knows the trouble we got ourselves into. Those times, laughter and even the tears, I shall always be grateful for and never forget. No matter how many years go by, the “aftermath” of his loss has never truly subsided. For the pain of such loss and the guilt I’ve carried, I fear shall remain with me for the rest of my life. The best I can hope for, is when I am called Home, I can see Mike for a moment and tell him once again “Dude, sorry I’m late.” With a lot of tears falling down my face I sure do miss and love my friend. I reckon I always will…. 34 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 35

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