Sunday, December 7, 1997
Officers deal with sorrow,
job's risks

BY LAURA GOLDBERG
and TANYA BRICKING
The Cincinnati Enquirer

flag
The flag in front of District 1 flies at half-staff.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
As Cincinnati police officers dealt with their grief and shock Saturday, city officials, community leaders and regular citizens offered a show of support.

Many officers wanted to deal with their pain in private. And the police division used peer counselors, psychologists and chaplains to help them.

''We provide a lot of counseling and a lot of assistance and a lot of support for employees in a situation like this,'' said City Manager John Shirey.

Cincinnati Police Sgt. Mike Gardner described it as ''emotional first aid.'' Officers were also reminded to be careful on the job, said Sgt. Gardner, previously a training sergeant but now in the public information office.

''We want to make sure they look out for each other and rely on their . . . training,'' he said.

''When this happens in a family, people come together and want to support each other,'' said Sgt. Gardner, who had officers Daniel J. Pope and Ronald D. Jeter in his training classes. ''We're just encouraging people to bond with their family - both their blood families and their police family.''

In each police district Saturday, officers met for roll calls knowing the risk.

''As police officers, we know it's a dangerous job,'' said Officer Phillip Black, a recruiter at the police academy who was friends with slain Spc. Jeter. ''But we're not always thinking of fear.''

Patrick Olvey, a member of the Cincinnati police division from 1963 to 1992, was a pall bearer in the funeral of Cincinnati Officer Clifford George, shot while handling a domestic disturbance complaint in 1987. As a District 5 sergeant, Mr. Olvey also made arrangements for the funeral of Officer William Loftin, killed in the line of duty in 1975.

Mr. Olvey, who was Golf Manor's police chief after leaving the city, is now commander of the computer crime task force for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. He had this advice for officers: ''Accept the fact. Don't give up hope, and pray that it's very infrequent when things like that occur. You can still function, but you never get over it. I started with the city in '63, so as you look over the list of people who were killed, I lived through that list. You don't get (over) them. You're still allowed to choke up and cry.''

At the Cincinnati Police Academy, next month's recruit class met for an orientation Saturday and learned the first lesson: that death is a reality in their chosen career.

''It's always a jolt when an officer gets killed,'' said Ryan House, 23, of Benton, Ill., who plans to graduate from the academy in June. ''There's danger in anything. Police work is a risk. But you don't think about the risk. You think about the good things that come out of it, and the good things far outweigh the risk.''

Firefighters also were struck by the tragedy. Firefighter Linda Pope was married to Officer Pope. Fire Capt. Robert L. Pope Jr., was the slain officer's brother.

District 2 Fire Chief John Zompero drove to Mrs. Pope's firehouse early Saturday to break the news that her husband had been shot, Fire Chief Robert Wright said.

There was also support from the community and its leaders.

District 5 police, where both slain officers worked, received dozens of calls from the public, offering support and thanking the police.

By early afternoon, one woman left a bouquet of silk flowers outside the station at the base of the flagpole. A cross-shaped paper tied to the flowers read: ''To the families of Officer Jeter and Officer Pope, God Bless. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.''

Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who was at the hospital until 6:30 a.m. Saturday, and other council members offered condolences, prayers and support for the police.

Kristen DelGuzzi contributed to this report.

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