In Times Of Pandemic & Protests, Police Chief Copes With Loss Of Father
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — With a pandemic unlike any the world had seen in the past 100 years, the strongest earthquake to strike the city in six decades and well over a month of protests calling for social justice and reform, 2020 has not been an easy year for any first responder or law enforcement officer.
“A lot of people are really tired and almost exhausted,” said Chief Mike Brown with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
Then came the events of the first week in June that Brown will always associate with a deeply personal loss.
“(My father) went into the hospital about a month before that and was released from intensive care and went to a skilled nursing home,” Brown said.
The news quickly turned from bad to worse.
“I was actually convening a meeting with the mayor and some of the African-American community leaders to talk about chokeholds and kneeling on necks and the things that we don’t do,” Brown recalled. “I got a call from my mother and (she) said, ‘hey, your dad’s not going to make it.’ I quickly gathered my things and went out to the rest home and I was able to spend a couple hours with my dad and talk with him and hold his hand and really say goodbye to him.”
On June 4, 87-year-old Reid Brown — a 30-year sheriff’s deputy and lifetime mentor to his son — died.
“I was out on the plaza doing an interview and I remember my phone rang,” Brown said. “I didn’t pick it up, but I picked it up shortly after and my mom said my dad had passed away.”
Brown said he could remember being excited as a young child that his father was going to be a cop.
“I’m very proud that I followed in my dad’s footsteps and that some of the characteristics he has — I’ve embraced them and I see them in myself now,” Brown said.
The chief recalled his father as a “gentle giant” who was kind and compassionate.
“I think my dad did de-escalation before there was really de-escalation,” Brown said. “I remember hearing some of the deputies talk about my dad and some of the stories and they said, ‘your dad could show up on a scene that was very chaotic and bring kind of a calmness to the whole thing.”
Brown grew especially emotional when he talked about the support he’d received from the officers in his department.
“Somebody said, ‘you need to go home and be with your family,’” Brown said. “I said, ‘I’m with my family.’ I really was. The men and women of this police department are my family and I love ‘em.”
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