Children of Cops

Children of Cops

By Stephen Owsinski

The uniqueness is true about cops and their loved ones standing behind them throughout a perilous career that can bring devastation at any moment. It is a poignant ingredient that children of police parent(s) endear their moms and dads as heroes, crime-fighting crusaders who hold special places in young hearts.

Despite the anti-police establishment doing their darndest to make unhealthy and unwarranted noise, resulting in depleted pools of police officer candidates, those who have stepped up can celebrate the courageous act with their children. Let’s take a look at some of the poignancy…

Despite the depletion of law enforcement officer candidates across the nation, there are still academy classes graduating and getting pinned at swearing-in ceremonies. At each of these momentous occasions are children of the fresh batch of rookie officers. The shared glee is radiant!

(Photo courtesy of the Bakersfield Police Department.)

Similarly, promotion ceremonies witness an agency’s cadre of seasoned LEOs achieve rank (from silver to gold badges/stars), usually supervisory positions or managerial roles, during which sons, daughters, and spouses get to all stand tall for the loved one’s leadership launch.

(Photo courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.)

A highlight of every cop’s career is receiving recognition for any of the array of department-issued awards and medals in honor of excellent police work on behalf of the citizenry. As with academy graduations, badge pinnings at swearing-in events, and leadership promotions, children attend the awards ceremonies.

Recently, a too-young-to-remember child was cradled by his dad, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Phil Giardino, who was the recipient of the state law enforcement agency’s Medal of Valor.

(Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts State Police Hockey Team.)

From his sworn colleagues who also play on the MSP Hockey Team, we learn the following colorful tidbits about Trooper Giardino:

“As most of you know Phil ran MSP Hockey for multiple years and is a major reason why we were able to get so big and help so many families in need. Unfortunately, Phil stepped away to focus on family life, as he’s pictured above with Lil Phil 3rd. Phil can literally talk a dog off a meat wagon but when talking about himself he’s extremely humble and [a] man of few words. So, I will put him on blast! Phil is an excellent cop.”

How did he garner the prestigious Medal of Valor? His teammates on the ice and the streets shared this:

“Back in December of 2020, Phil and a few other members of MSP’s Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section went to the Bronx, along with US Marshals and captured, at that time, Massachusetts Most Wanted Man, after an early morning shootout.

“The suspect was wanted on multiple charges after shooting a fellow trooper in Hyannis, just two weeks prior, during a routine traffic stop. [Trooper] Giardino we thank you, we applaud you, and now buying PG3, baby skates to give you a reason to come back to MSP Hockey this season!”

Sounds like a policeman who is a father and a hockey guru who prioritizes his children, all accounts of which his teammates surely support.

One of the routine things cops do is visit school-age children during the annual Great American Teach-In, when police moms and dads get to hug/love on their child in his/her class, talk to the student body about what it is like to be a law enforcement officer, show off the duty belt and explain the hardware, all while their kid is beaming with pride. My daughter always found a front-row seat and would keep peering over her shoulder, smiling at her classmates with poignant pride. Me too.

If ever I was detoured from a pre-scheduled book read due to calls for service needing police responses (“duty calls”), a colleague would substitute-teach my kid’s class; whichever cop got to fill in, she would refer to as Uncle or Aunt so-and-so. LEOs are quite familial.

(Photo courtesy of the Fort Myers Police Department.)

My daughter would always say to her peers, “My dad’s a policeman!” Despite the evident blue uniform, badge, and iconic duty belt, she had no qualms about boasting, exuding pride in her dad’s chosen profession: her rarely-home superhero. Sometimes she would leave her seat and sit next to me at the front of the class, bobbing her head up and down during everything I explained about policing in America. I miss those days…

Children for Cops

Even though we are highlighting children of cops, similarly heartrending are the children whose moms and dads may not be cops but show love, support, and adoration for law enforcement officer heroes in their respective jurisdictions.

The morning of the 22nd commemoration of the unfathomable events on 09/11/01 was met with children’s cheers and chants for a batch of badged heroes with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida.

“On a day when we remember tragedy and heroic sacrifice, we are also glad to remember the appreciation that our community has for our first responders,” wrote a spokesperson with the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police Local #530.

You can easily guess that the cops appreciated the grand gesture and reciprocated…as public servants do.

Contrary to the unhealthy and unwarranted noise we emphasized above, the positive brand of decibels was resounding and genuinely jam-worthy…as school-age kids romped in the Sacred Heart Parish Center roundabout populated with police officers occupying Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) police cruisers and motorcycles. Cops emitting their siren’s wee-woos acknowledged the respect and praise from police-supporting youngsters. Then they co-mingled with the children…

(Photo courtesy of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office FOP Lodge 530.)

Cops for Children of Fallen Cops

To some degree, despite their age…children of cops harbor the reality that their police mom’s or dad’s job is filled with life-saving elation in one instance…then rife with peril on the next call.

In the most tragic of circumstances, when a fallen officer has a child/children, it is relatively customary for the cohort police force to sort of stand in at certain life circumstances such as the first day of the school year, with youngsters wearing the face of anxiety and tentative wonder.

Any child befitting those elements in a school context would certainly wish their mom and/or dad were present for a pep talk during a motivational walk to the campus doors. In the stead of officers fallen in the line of duty, law enforcement colleagues fill the role as best possible. A recent example was exhibited by a contingent of officers from the Bristol Police Department in Connecticut.

Per the Hartford Courant, on September 5, 2023, “Officers from the Bristol Police Department greeted fallen Lt. Dustin DeMonte’s children as they arrived for their first day of school on Tuesday morning.

“More than a dozen members of the department joined Phoebe and Porter DeMonte — whose father was killed in the line of duty last year — before they headed into school for the 2023-24 school year.”

(Photo courtesy of the Bristol Police Department.)

Swinging by the Bristol PD’s social media site, I found this:

“This morning several Bristol Police Officers drove to greet Phoebe and Porter DeMonte as they went into school for their 1st day. It was a very special day for our law enforcement family and we wish them all the best this upcoming school year.”

Bristol police Lt. Dustin DeMonte, Phoebe and Porter’s dad was shot and killed in an ambush on October 12, 2022.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), “Lieutenant Dustin Demonte and Sergeant Alex Hamzy were shot and killed in an ambush in front of a home on Redstone Hill Road, near Birch Street, at about 11:00 p.m.

“Officers had responded to a business earlier in the evening in response to complaints about a disorderly patron. Officers who responded to the call issued the man an infraction and released him. The man then went home, armed himself with an AR-15 rifle, and made a fake 911 call reporting a disturbance at his home. As officers arrived at the scene, the man opened fire on them from the front yard.

“Lieutenant Demonte and Sergeant Hamzy were both fatally wounded, while a third officer suffered non-life-threatening wounds.

“The subject was shot and killed by the third officer.

“Lieutenant Demonte had served with the Bristol Police Department for 10 years. He is survived by his expectant wife and two children. His daughter was born five months after his death.

“Lieutenant Demonte was posthumously promoted to Lieutenant.” 

Some children of fallen cops mature and go on to attend a police academy and follow in dad’s or mom’s footsteps.

We close with one such example, whose heartrending voice was recently heard by many thousands at a recent NY Jets football game, as she poured her heart and soul into our National Anthem.

Per the NYPD Detectives Endowment Association, “Officer Brianna Fernandez had everyone on their feet as she sang the National Anthem at tonight’s NY Jets game. The daughter of fallen 9/11 hero Det. Luis Fernandez, Brianna makes her father proud without question.”

Lump-in-throat that this event would transpire on September 11, 2023, coupled with the debut of new NY Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers donning an NYPD cap while warming the greens as a packed stadium cheered. For me, though, the pinnacle was the in-unison vocals of the stadium population led by a young NYC cop whose cords belted out like it was the duty of all duties.

One can imagine her dad smiling down upon her as she graced an introspective population with her beautiful voice while donning a true blue uniform she routinely observed growing up as a cop’s child.