I spoke at a command graduation. Kate McNelly (a great friend and member of the Memorial board) and Jarrod Leckrone (another great friend, who was also one of Kyle’s inspirations to become a motor officer) and I went to accept a check for the Comforting Keepsakes and Trooper Kyle Deatherage Memorial mission. Thank you so much to Angie for the invitation and idea for the donation from the class. I was honored, but it also leads me to reflect on the what if’s.
I always knew Kyle was going to be promoted. I always thought Kyle was going to lead others someday. I always knew when he reached that point in life, it would make an impact on others.
Unfortunately, Kyle didn’t get that chance to be in the seats of command today. He did however get 32 years on earth to make a difference and impact on the world.
I know all of this because of how he treated others. He never talked down to people. He was always on their level. He had compassion, yet maintained his level of authority.
After Kyle was killed, I received a letter. It was from a man who Kyle had ever so graciously arrested for DUI months prior. When the letter began with, “Your husband arrested me for DUI…”, I immediately thought it would be a dig on law enforcement, as unfortunately, that negativity is what is portrayed to the public.
The letter was accompanied by a check. I was trying to put the pieces together—why would someone Kyle had arrested be sending us a check?! Well, because Kyle was not only good at his job, but was a good human.
The man stated that when Kyle arrested him, it didn’t feel like an arrest. It felt like someone who stopped him from hurting himself or others and flooded him with compassion and guidance.
As I kept reading, he explained the reason for the check.
Because Kyle was killed before his case went to trial, the DUI was dismissed. I’m sure that would really frustrate Kyle to know that, but he made a difference in this man’s life. He asked that the money he would have spent on attorney fees, tickets, and fines, be put towards our children’s college fund.
This is who Kyle was. He didn’t command respect from anyone at any age. He earned it.
Death is inevitable. We can pretend we are all invincible. Reality is, we aren’t. Be that person. Be the kind of officer and leader that would receive a letter about you like I did about Kyle. Aspire to not only uphold the law, but mentor these good people who made bad choices. (Something Nick Hopkins would say when asked about the bad guys.)
Be safe. Be smart. Be a good human. This was my message for all of the graduates.
Until the next nap time,