THE KILLING OF DEPUTY BARBARA PILL

Brevard County Deputy Sheriff, Barbara Pill, 52, was shot and killed on a residential street in Melbourne, by a petty thief on March 6th, 2012. News covereage went national. Funeral services were somber and well attended.

The suspect was being chased in a vehicle because he and his girl friend were stealing cheap furniture from a local motel. The suspect crashed the car but came out shooting. Pill’s back-up was not yet on the scene when she was stunned by bullets striking her vest. As she lay on the ground, the killer shot her in the head.

     Deputy Pill was the 21st on-duty police officer killed in 2012 in America. That same day, another female officer in Indiana was killed in a vehicular assault.

     If the standard trends continue, another 150 police officers will be killed before the end of 2012.

     Stalin once said that, “One death is a tragedy, one thousand deaths is a statistic.” With numbers, we lose sight of the human aspect and how if affects everyone.

     Barbara Pill is more than a statistic. She was a compassionate human being, a shining star within her community, a mother, a wife and a devotee to her chosen profession. This killing not only impacts the deceased, it impacts a community, a police agency, hundreds of comrades, friends and family members. The ripple effect is far reaching. We often lose track of that.

     Barbara Pill leaves a husband as a grieving widower, an emotional trauma from which he will never fully recover.

     She leaves two loving sons and their wives and children and future children that will never know their grandmother.

     Barbara Pill’s network of admiring friends and family extends far beyondMelbourne, too numerous too mention. They will no longer hear her voice, feel her presence, share her dreams.

     The people of the community have lost thirty years and two agencies of law enforcement background, which will be replaced by a rookie who cannot fill those shoes. We lose a dedicated and experienced servant.

     The killer will probably be tried, found guilty and sent to Death Row where he will sit of some 25 years as legal delays keep him alive and medically fit at taxpayer’s expense, to the tune of some $3 million, or more.

     The killer’s 19 year-old accomplice will most likely be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, another burden upon the taxpayer for some fifty years, racking up a cost of some $1.5 million to theFloridataxpayers.

     For a few pieces of furniture from a cheap motel and a momentary thrill for a criminal to kill a cop.

     Pill was white, the shooter black. I dare not even imagine that the ruthless killing had anything to do with racial hatred. Probably not, after all, we’re not seeing national demonstrations of white officer organizations all over the country, waving fists and demanding justice. This was just another criminal killing another cop.

     Daily, police officers don their uniforms and kiss spouses goodbye thinking they’ll be home again later that day. But for 160-170 police officers a year, that won’t happen.  A cop never knows what awaits them behind the wheel of a car or what dangers lurk during a domestic argument call.  It only takes a split second, a momentary hesitation, a worry over right from wrong. What will the Monday morning quarterbacks say?

     Folks should remember Barbara Pill the next time they’re quick to criticize a cop’s reaction to a perilous situation. Cops are not always perfect because they are human.

     Been there, done that. I have walked in Barbara Pill’s shoes. In 1965, I was serving a warrant in Miami when I had two seconds to think about a surprise gun pointed my way. Luckily the bullet struck a leg and not my brain.

     It’s a dangerous world out there for police officers.                          

     We should all remember Barbara Pill. Community hero.