Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I didn't find out until about five minutes ago. Last night, I went to bed at around 11pm, so I missed the news at that time. Just waking up this morning, I poured myself the first cup of coffee of the day, and fired up the computer. Then a local news anchor said those words on TV: "Our top story, the Philadelphia Police Department is again in mourning this morning..." My head whipped around to the TV screen. Sergeant Tim Simpson of the 24th district was dead, killed in a horrific car crash at approximately 10:45pm last night. He was killed at Aramingo & Allegheny while responding to a robbery call, possibly by a drunk driver who was speeding. This is the 2nd officer killed in an auto accident in the last few months, with Izzy Nazario killed back in the late summer. It is the 4th Philly cop killed this calendar year, the 5th in the last year, the 6th on-duty in 2 1/2 years stretching back to Gary Skerski's murder in spring of 2006. With Walter Barclay's death from wounds that he received decades ago in a shooting, it marks the 7th Philly cop to die of an on-duty incident in that time period. My stomach flips again, and I say a prayer for the officer, his family and friends, his co-workers, and all police officers. It's beyond ridiculous now. We got almost, almost, a two month break this time. We deserve years without such tragedy at this point. They all need to be remembered as a group: Walt Barclay, Gary Skerski, Chuck Cassidy, Steve Liczbinski, Isabel Nazario, Pat McDonald, and now Tim Simpson. Ironically, it was Simpson who had worked closely with Liczbinski, and was the officer given the responsibility of cuffing the murderer of his fellow Sergeant and former partner just this past spring. We will again cover our badges with mourning crepes, again put on our blouse coats, again make funeral arrangements, again bury a fellow officer. This time it will be a brother with a wife and children who we will bury at Thanksgiving. To make matters possibly worse to me, I saw a picture of the officer. He looked a lot like an officer who I served with in the 6th district, Terry Simpson, and I wonder if they are related, possibly brothers. That would make an already intolerable situation even more personal, with my own brother also on the job and both of us knowing Terry. We will find out more of these details in the coming hours and days, but there is one thing that we already know. The Philadelphia Police Department has a very dark cloud hanging over it right now. The winter cold has settled over the area this morning, the first real morning of frost. It feels even colder now. This has to end. Doesn't it?