Real Heroes


As kids, nothing seemed better than being “grown up.” Reaching adulthood, we begin rethinking the absurdity of the very idea as we watch ourselves slowly lose our physical prowess. The harder we worked and played, the more we’re rewarded by arthritic aches and pains creeping into our life. But the worst thing about getting older is the sudden, unexpected loss of friends.

The Good Ol’ Days

I was a copper from ages 22 to 50. As we say, it was a front-row seat to the greatest show on earth, but it had a costly price of admission. I’ve attended too many colleagues’ funerals at much too young an age. Rotating shiftwork, combined with a fast-food diet (what else is open at 2 a.m.?), and the stress of the job all take their toll on most. The national average age of death for cops is a mere 66 years of age, compared to 78 among civilians.

Seeing The Light

My last 18 years with the department were spent on a motor. As a mounted officer, funeral details were common. These details were enjoyable — at first — but I noticed the older motor officers disliked them. Why? Because as time ticks by you start thinking about those you’re escorting, losing your sense of invincibility in the process. There’s nothing like doing a few hundred funerals to pound the cycle of life in your head. You start wondering when it’s going to be your turn to be escorted.


I was scrolling through Facebook when a jolt of adrenalin made me sit upright as I loudly said, “Oh no!” My wife asked what was wrong and I informed her our friend Vic passed away. It was a shocker! We were the same age and had known each other since we were 16. I didn’t sleep a wink that night thinking about him and all we had experienced together.

I was a high school junior, and it was the first wrestling match of the season. I wrestled heavyweight. My opponent had around 40 pounds on me, making for a tough match. In the last period, I hit a Granby roll, surprising my opponent and pinning him. He never knew what hit him. The next year, we tied. Then, it was over. He beat me three times during my senior year in a Christmas tournament and county and regional matches. The matches were always close, but he never pinned me — something I’d remind him about later.

Roll Call

Fast forward, I graduated college, majoring in law enforcement. I was hired by Montgomery County, got through the academy and was assigned a shift in Wheaton/Glenmont. My first roll call, there was Vic. Looking at each other, we both shook our heads in disbelief. While shaking hands, I asked him, “What’s a Granby roll?” He replied, “What’s a county and regional champion? Touché!

We worked together over the years, sharing a large beat that was one of the busiest in the county. It was 8 miles from the station, and we never saw any of our shift mates until the end of our tour. Vic and I called ourselves the Burtonsville Town Marshall’s, because we were basically it, in that large, busy beat. Naturally, a close friendship developed running calls together, backing each other up, sharing meals and spending many long hours together.

Vic was a large, powerful man who was also a power lifter — and he was very good at it. In his heyday, he placed 6th in the World Games for drug-free competition. He was just the kind of guy you wanted for backup.

During the mid to late 80s, crack cocaine reared its ugly head. Neighborhoods changed overnight with crime. Assaults, shootings and stabbings from competing dealers, as well as property crimes and robberies from addicts wanting to support their habit, were the norm.

Our district captain knew something needed to be done, so a task force was implemented. Days worked would be Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. This task force was called the “Power Shift.” Comprised of roughly eight officers, known drug markets were targeted. The team made a huge impact on crime with numerous arrests. Vic and I worked on this detail together for a few years, resulting in us becoming closer than ever. In fact, he was the best man at my wedding during this time.

Over time, Vic became a detective in the youth division, and I went on a motor.

Come To Jesus Moment

Vic recently shared a story explaining the nature of the man. It happened many years ago and was around Christmas time. Someone had given him some fruitcake. It was probably a re-grift, but Vic accepted it gracefully. Later that night, he received a call to check the need for emergency shelter.

It was a young mother and child. They were cold, hungry and had no place to go. Remembering the fruitcake, he offered it to them. He said the looks on their faces as they ate the fruitcake brought him to tears. It was at that very moment Vic was called by the Lord. He became a minister, went back to school, eventually getting a PhD in ministry/theology studies, and touched thousands of lives. He and his wife Jean raised five children and adopted a sixth from a case Vic worked. He was an incredible man, to say the least.

Hero Acknowledgement

You see, not all heroes wear capes or sports uniforms. And though not everyone wearing a police uniform is a hero, my friend, my brother, and my best man, Victor Kennedy, was certainly a true hero to me. When I shared Vic’s untimely news, several people said the same, “Let’s hope he saves a spot for us in heaven.” I’m sure when the time comes, and if I make the cut, Vic will be one of the first people I see.

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