Sergeant Collin Rose
Sergeant Collin James Rose Wayne State University Police Department, Michigan
End of Watch: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 BFTF Representatives That Attended Funeral: James Johnson PO 6118 1st Precinct Crime Control The following was written by James Johnson, BFTF President who attended the services for posthumously promoted Sergeant Collin Rose. Again I find myself inside another church flanked by hundreds of men and women in an array of uniforms with colorful stitched patches denoting locations from across the United States and Canada. The first thing that always strikes me at line of duty funerals outside of the New York City/Long Island region is that nearly every attending police officer is invited into the venue. Often times where we’re from, space constraints do not allow us to enter a church as such is reserved for family, friends, and immediate members of that decedent’s command. That is not to say that we do not still mourn the loss of a local service member any less, but we are accustom to waiting outside in gaggles in between the starting and ending formations, and do not really get a sense of who it is that was lost unless we knew that officer personally. So when you arrive in an unfamiliar place and you’re welcomed with open arms inside it can be a moving experience. It tends to humanize the tragedy more so when you’re a few feet away from a grieving mother, or widow, and you can see the trails of pain on their faces. On this particular day I find myself seated in a pew, fourth row back from the front altar, at the Saint Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan. It’s a small town, a few minutes outside of Detroit, on a cold day that is marked by scattered snow flurries and a graying sky. I am seated at the last spot adjacent to the center aisle. To my left is a stoic New York City Police Officer and a hulking Chicago Police Officer. To the front of me are rows of smartly uniformed Detroit Police Officers, and members of the Wayne State University Police Department whose colleague, Sergeant Collin Rose, we are all here to mourn. To my right, across the red carpeted aisle, are members of Collin Rose’s family who are blankly staring in awe at the sea of blue that is before them. In between their tears and sobs you can see them squinting to read the names and places of the patches that are littering the church. I exchange glances with a middle-aged woman with tears streaming upon her pretty face; maybe an aunt or a cousin of our fallen colleague. No words are spoken but she gives me a look of approval and gratitude, and I return her a look conveying my condolences and the honor it is to stand before her. Though there are hundreds of otherwise outgoing “Type A” personalities in the building, you can hear a pin drop. Suddenly the gentle and quintessential hum of our beloved bagpipes emerge through the silence and with that comes the cortege of pipers, drummers, honor guardsmen, and the body of Sergeant Collin Rose. I can feel the hairs on my neck stand at attention and my body becomes engrossed in goose bumps. As they play their pipes and drums with military precision, and escort Collin into his final tribute, my eyes begin to well up at the sight of his loved ones overcome with emotion at the pomp and circumstance their hero is justly receiving. I find a lump in my throat, and water in my eyes, as Collin is presented before the altar of his church. Over the next few hours I, and my colleagues from afar, learn about who Collin Rose truly was. A gentle soul with an easy smile who was quick to help the best of people, and the worst of people, without a second thought. A man who loved dogs and had a knack for communicating with them in a way that they lovingly obeyed his every request. A man who loved police work and could not get enough of it every day. A man that our colleagues in the New York area would refer to as a “buff” and a man who would wear that moniker as a badge of honor. Collin was truly a cop’s cop and as I sat and learned about a life cut tragically short, I could not help but be thankful that I was able to get to know such a man even in death. Police Officers in our area do not often get the opportunity to get an intimate look into the window of the life of the officer who was killed, and I am humbled by the opportunity. The experience transcends all jurisdictions, jobs, ranks, colors, genders, races, and creeds. From the Chief of the Detroit Police Department a few rows in front of me, to the Canadian street cop from the Windsor Police Department behind me; everyone’s face revealed the reverence of the occasion. Following the mass the entire congregation made their way outside to stand in formation and salute Collin Rose as the Pipe and Drum corps delivered him to a waiting hearse. I joined officers from the Chicago Police Department inside of their marked ‘Brotherhood for the Fallen’ suburban and we made our way into the funeral procession. The local street was besieged with hundreds upon hundreds of marked police units from across the nation; all with their light packages in full effect. We followed in unison behind the moving casket of Sergeant Collin Rose as he made his way to his final resting place at a nearby cemetery. To say that his procession extended miles is an understatement. We arrived at the cemetery and his grave site was surrounded by police officers, family, friends, honor guards, and a contingent of dozens of trained police dogs. As we walked to our positions it struck me that all of the German Shepherds were lying down, facing the grave, and yielding muffled whimpers; an ultimate testament to the impact Collin had on animals and the loss that even they felt. Nearby Collin’s father wept, as did his mother and lovely fiancé. As the twenty-one-gun salute was fired, the air was punctured by the wails and moans of the dogs. It was a moving moment to hear the crying canines, shots being fired, punctuated by the whirr of a pending helicopter fly over; it nearly brought me to my knees. As this was completed, and the American Flag folded, family members’ tears turned to uncontrollable sobs at the realization that Collin will not being coming home with them. They were presented with their folded flag, a final salute, and we stood by helpless as their pain and anguish grew further. A neighboring Wayne State University Police Officer was inconsolable with grief. We soon learned that he was Collin’s Field Training Officer and close friend. His pain became our pain and we embraced him with our condolences and tried to comfort him the best we could. Shortly after we were invited to a fellowship in Collin Rose’s honor and shared a meal with his family and police officers from across the country. There we further learned about the life of this young man and brought more tears to my eyes. By all accounts he was an incredible Police Officer and a wonderful member of his community. I was honored to have shared in the tribute of his life on that cold, gray day in Michigan. I know as much as anyone how trying and difficult it can be to take personal time, and travel to a far way place to attend a line of duty funeral. It is no easy task and it hinders our personal and family lives along the way. However, I also know that the honor of the experience is sobering and worth every bit of inconvenience to get there. These men and women that are killed in the line of duty are just like us. They may wear different colors and use strange ten codes and acronyms but they, like us, are the shepherds herding the flock away from the wolves. The sad fact of the matter is that this could be any one of us, at any moment, and we embrace that fact and go to work every day regardless. Moreover, we sadly live in a time where it is commonplace and popular to brow beat the police and vilify their efforts every step of the way. The media, celebrities, politicians; all take turns soiling our reputations and second guessing our decisions without any frame of reference of what it is we do each day. With that in mind, now more than ever, it is imperative we stand together as one law enforcement community and support one another and our families. And that, to me, is worth waiting in airport screening lines, packing bags, being stuck in traffic, having to take off a few days from work; and all of the other inconveniences that come along with being a participating member of the Brotherhood for the Fallen Suffolk County. I encourage each member of our organization, regardless of rank or unit, to get involved and attend an out of state line of duty police funeral. The gravity of the occasion will remain with you for the rest of your lives and will reinforce and motivate you to continue the police mission we undertake every day. Thank you Jimmy for representing us so well. We are proud to have you as our President of the Brotherhood For The Fallen, Suffolk County, NY.