Surrogates at Fallen Cops’ Kids’ Graduations

Surrogates at Fallen Cops’ Kids’ Graduations

By Stephen Owsinski

The oft-repeated vows and promises among cops are solid steel: “I’ve got your back” and “I’ve got your six” and “We’re in this together” are just a few of the pacts possessed by law enforcement officers.

Though the job sometimes devolves into casualties via the self-sacrifice oath on behalf of the citizenry, sadly resulting in fallen police professionals’ kids striving for milestones without their parental cop physically by their side, the vows of standing up and standing in for these fatherless and motherless offspring are never alone.

Lately, we’ve seen some examples testifying to promises made, promises kept…

Although graduations transpire during May-June based on varying locales throughout the country, cops have been stepping up and standing in as surrogates, overseeing fallen brothers’ and sisters’ children toss the tassel and receive well-earned academic credentials.

As many humans suffer the most severe loss in life —that of a parent— the subsequent maladaptive behaviors seem relative and understandable.

Yet the offspring of police officers fallen in the line of duty endure the worst-case scenario and push on to triumph with milestones such as academic achievement. Like their parental origins, their resilience is astounding and admirable.

Depicted in our feature photo above is Savanna, daughter of Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Christopher Marano who perished in the line of duty on December 17, 2009, making her a young girl without a dad at a very tender age.

However, although she lost her biological father to the dangers of police work, Savanna gained throngs of surrogates, otherwise known as state troopers standing behind her, especially so since 2009.

For Savanna’s high school graduation on May 28, 2021, her deceased dad’s colleagues surprised her with “a special escort to her high school graduation ceremony…

“Troopers were honored to support the Marano family on this special day and join them in recognizing Savanna’s accomplishments. Following in her father’s footsteps, Savanna plans to pursue a career in law enforcement as a K-9 officer. Great job and good luck, Savanna! You’ll always have the support of your DPS family.”

And that’s just one of many like it!

A large contingent of LEOs with the Douglas County, Colorado sheriff’s office gathered and offered congratulatory praise for Preston, a 6th grade student whose father was slain in the line of duty two years prior.

The Douglas County deputies wrote the following statement: “Two years ago this incredible young man lost his father & we at the Sheriff’s Office lost an incredible Sergeant. Today he graduated 6th grade, and like family does, we came together to show him how proud we are and share in his accomplishment. Great job Preston!”

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

Police officers-turned-surrogates span the nation, and a young lady in the Lone Star state of Texas can attest she is far from alone, despite her police officer father being killed in the line of duty.

Jenna Freeto graduated from Little Elm High School on May 21, 2021, and while her shiny tassel dangled, she was enveloped and shielded by glinty badges worn by her dad’s colleagues from the Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD).

(Photo courtesy of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association.)

Jenna is yet another youngster whose police family embraced her and saw her through the years since she was a toddler when her dad, Fort Worth police Officer Dwayne Freeto, was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver in 2006.

“We will forever honor the families of our fallen officers so they know that the sacrifice by their loved one is never forgotten. We wish Jenna all the best as she pursues a degree from the University of North Texas,” said a police union press release.

I’m sure Jenna will have the same surrogacy when she graduates from the University of North Texas in a few years.

From high school diploma to college degree, there is no degree to which cops will not go on behalf of their fallen’s family—these are a mere few examples.

As recent years have been especially deadly for cops navigating environments laden with increasing lurk, ambushes, and tensioned mortality —notice the mourning bands wrapped around each trooper’s badge in our cover photo— loved ones of God’s peacekeepers stay the course because that’s what would definitely make dad or mom proud. No matter the academic level, whether it be grade school or high school or college…factions of public safety professionals surrogate by fulfilling the formal or informal covenants made years prior.

Apropos, a FWPD commenter offered this sentiment: “Wonderful to have ‘brothers in blue’ stand in the gap for this young lady’s father! Such a heartfelt tribute to the families of fallen officers!” Indeed…

And sometimes milestone moments arise organically, between total strangers, like when a University of California-Berkeley graduate was a bit too overwhelmed with properly knotting his necktie. UC-Berkeley police officer to the rescue:

(Photo courtesy of the University of California-Berkeley Police Department.)

Per a UC-Berkeley Police post: “When the instructional YouTube video isn’t clear on how to tie a tie, UCPD officers are here to help no matter the challenge! Congratulations Class of 2021!”

As mentioned earlier, it is so often we hear the cop credo “I’ve got your back!” We just explored one of many layers depicting how that plays out in real life.

As always and forever, seems there is nothing law enforcement officers won’t do for the purpose of humanitarian support, preservation, and kindness…no matter who needs pillaring.