Being a cop anywhere is no laughing matter. Being a cop in one of America’s major metropolitan cities is serious business. Being a cop in Las Vegas Nevada at any time is rough – tourists from all around the world, laws that allow open intoxicants in public, lax prostitution laws, bars and casinos that literally never close all add up to nightly encounters with everything from drunken idiots to sting operations on Mafia strong men. Vegas cops see it all.
But being a cop in Las Vegas last Sunday night was a harrowing first-time experience for all of them. Nothing could prepare them or anyone else for what unfolded. All they could do was rely on training, grit, cunning and courage as they faced an unknown assailant and carnage few have ever witnessed.
Las Vegas Metro P.D. Officer J Van Dyke made his way home after working a nineteen hour shift that fateful night and authored a letter chronicling his experience which he then posted to his Facebook page. That letter has gone viral in a big kind of way having been shared over 100,000 times and drawn 22,000 comments – mostly praise for the acts and heroism of he and his fellow first responders.
Officer Van Dyke’s post has come to be known on social media simply as “Sheepdogs“, a reference which any who read it will quickly understand. Read Van Dyke’s letter in full here. But here are some of the highlights:
Whoever this was, he outguns us
“Hearing gun shots on the radio while my partners were asking for help, knowing you are still miles away, is nothing that any cop wants to ever experience. On arrival we moved in on foot, still not knowing where the shots were coming from. Learning vague details from numerous panicked 911 callers… some of them saying there were multiple shooters in the Tropicana Hotel, New York New York Hotel, Mirage Hotel, Paris Hotel… the ongoing radio traffic about more victims being found, more shots being fired… Even that didn’t compete with the faces of people running away. The citizens and tourists we all swore to protect, running for their lives, hoping that we could give them a miracle…
…And of course the frustration we get when people question you… “Why do I have to leave?” “But my hotel is that way.” “Why are you yelling at me to put my hands up? That’s not very nice.” “Why are you pointing rifles at me? That’s scary.” … Some don’t know or understand the magnitude of what is unfolding. Now the most deadly active shooter incident in modern American history, and I try to save your life and rush you to safety, and the Sheepdogs, herding the sheep to safety, are criticized for their “aggression.” But all those negatives are forgotten when you find a crying, terrified family sheltered in place inside a bathroom stall. When you get to guide a horrified mother and her crying child to safety…
…The bravery and courage of first responders that only we get to witness and fully understand. The fact that one of my coworkers was on vacation tonight, heard what was happening, and suited up at home and came with us to fight the wolf. In my 12-man unit, only 9 of us were “on duty” – the other 3 came from home when they heard what was unfolding. At the end of the day, we fight side by side, and we go in together. Unfortunately, we don’t always all make it out, and today, an LVMPD police officer who was off duty attending the concert, was among those who tragically did not make it out of the festival alive. Today I will honor that Officer, along with the more than 50 people who died. Today I will think of their families and friends, who now have to learn how to go on without their loved one…”
“The sheep don’t always want the sheepdog around, because he reminds them there is evil in the world. But, still, the sheepdog is willing to fight in defense of the sheep, and at a moment’s notice, he is willing to lay down his own life for the sheep he loves. It is simply who he is.”
“Thank you for your service, officers” seems so inadequate, but while many berate you, take a knee at you, curse and insult you know that many of us – tens of millions in fact – are grateful you are on that wall.
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn, Founder and Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, and a speaker, author, columnist and analyst for multiple print and broadcast media outlets. Follow him on on Facebook and at RMBlackConservatives.com]