Thursday, September 07, 2000

Grieving for a policeman

Recovery takes a long time and has many stages for a widow

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Linda Pope touches the name of her slain husband, Cincinnati Police Officer Daniel Pope, at the police memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End. She wears his wedding band and a bracelet inscribed with his name from the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        The dead police officer's widow stood in the middle of the checkout line at the grocery store and felt guilty that her world wasn't crumbling, too.

        The day after Cincinnati police Officer Kevin Crayon died, Linda Pope was buying groceries when it hit her. The emotions the officer's family are feeling this week are the same ones she felt nearly three years ago when her husband, Daniel, was killed in the line of duty.

        “When my husband died, I thought, "Why doesn't the world stop? Don't they know what happened?'” the Harrison woman said. “People had appointments, got their hair done, went to the grocery store ...

        “I felt a bit guilty that my world didn't stop, too.”

        Today, as the city of Cincinnati buries one of its heroes, two women attending his funeral will know better than anyone that the tragedy of losing a police officer doesn't end after the eulogy has been read.

        Mrs. Pope and Lisa Partin, whose police officer husband died while chasing a suspect across the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, understand the stages of grief, which they have not yet completed themselves.

        They remember the surge of emotion that comes during holidays. And the lump in the throat the first time the phone rings and another police officer has gone down in the line of duty. The fear, the anger, the frustration and deep sorrow comes creeping back into the heart.

Daniel Pope
Daniel Pope
        But they also know what it takes to heal, and how hard a journey that will be for Kevin Crayon's family, the three teen-age children, who live in Atlanta with their mother, and his parents, who live in Forest Park.

        “It's so very painful,” Mrs. Pope said. “The thing you want to do most is run away and hide from it. Your old life died with your officer and the only way to get over that is to start a new one.”

        Both women said the call in the early hours Friday jolted their memories. It took them back to the nights their husbands died.

The flashbacks
        For Mrs. Pope it was December 1997 when her husband, a Cincinnati police officer, and his partner, Spc. Ron Jeter, went to arrest a man on domestic violence charges and were shot.

  Archives of the coverage of the deaths of Daniel Pope, Ronald Jeter and Mike Partin:
        “What has hit me about Kevin's death is that I always knew I'd get that phone call in the middle of the night that another Cincinnati officer had gone down,” she said. But, “I was sort of unprepared for the flashbacks.

        “... I was picturing Kevin (Crayon) laying in the road, and in the next moment it was Dan and Ron ... in the apartment building.”

        When Friday's call came in to Mrs. Partin, she was swept back to a night just a month after Officer Pope and Spc. Jeter died. Her husband, Michael, a Covington police officer, was chasing a suspect when he fell from the bridge.

        The first call about Officer Crayon came about 3 a.m., she said, from a friend in the Cincinnati Police Division. It was the first of several calls she got from Cincinnati and Covington officers, who did not want her to hear it from the media.

        “They knew it was going to be tough on me,” she said.

        Mrs. Pope said she knows from experience that the Crayon family will always have unanswered questions.

        “I think about the grief the family is going through,” she said. “The whys, the if onlys and the somedays I'm going to wake up from this nightmare that has become my life.

        “When people say to you, you have to have closure, that irritates me,” Mrs. Pope said. “This is something that you will take with you to your grave.”

Now they help others
        Mrs. Pope has begun to accept that her police officer is never coming home. She has moved on to help other women with their tragedies by working with Concerns Of Police Survivors (COPS), a support group that counsels families of officers killed in the line of duty.

        Mrs. Partin has redirected her energy by working for the Kentucky National Memorial Foundation. It helps to throw yourself into something, she said.

        “The biggest thing that has helped me get through it is my connection with the Covington Police Department,” she said. “Whatever I need, they help me. The police department can't forget the family.

        “That is just so important. They're my connection still to Michael. They've just not forgotten me. I can't stress that enough.”

        Mrs. Partin lets her husband guide her life, too. She tries to think about what would make him proud, what he'd want her to do in situations. And it still helps to talk about him.

        “People have got to remember what happened,” she said.

        The loved ones Officer Crayon leaves behind will not soon forget the early morning call that their son, their father, their faithful friend, died in the street at the corner of Colerain Avenue and North Bend Road. It will be a vivid memory for a long time.

        They will remember that 12-year-old Courtney Mathis — a child not unlike the ones Officer Crayon was known for helping — drove away with the officer hanging onto the car. They will remember that the boy died after being shot by the desperate officer.

        The memories will linger, but life will move on and so will the families, Mrs. Pope and Mrs. Partin said. There will be glimpses of hope amid the sorrow.

        “You wake up one day and say, "He's really not coming home,'” Mrs. Pope said. “It will never be OK, but life does go on, and it can be good again.

        “Life doesn't stop for anything — not for the death of a police officer, not for the death of a child.”

Express condolences; complete coverage at
Hundreds pay respects to slain officer
Visitation held for 12-year-old
Funeral details

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