Even those who now live far away, mourn with community of Kenai

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2003

To the people of the Kenai Peninsula:

Every day I look forward to reading the news provided via the Peninsula Clarion online edition. It always gives me an opportunity to dream and remember the people of the Kenai-Soldotna area that my wife Adele and I love so much. The news of people doing things together, helping others when they are in need and picking up the pieces of their lives when disaster strikes.

As I opened Friday's Clarion I was shocked to read the article about the killing of Officer John Watson. My heart immediately dropped as I thought about his family and friends. My mind ran rapidly as I too could feel the pain of his brothers and sisters in law enforcement.

As the former chief executive officer of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in the Phoenix, Ariz., area, I have had to deliver several death notices of deputies that were killed in the line of duty. Sadly to say, in this area of the country it seems to be something that happens all too often.

What ran through my mind was that although I know well that it can happen at anytime, anywhere, it turned my stomach to think that it happened in the place of my dreams.

As a former Soldotna police officer and mayor, I cannot explain the heartfelt grief that my wife and I feel.

We will pray for the family of Officer Watson, the other law enforcement officers of the peninsula and the community as a whole. We have lost one that gave their life to protect and to serve. God has a special place for those who choose to be the ones on the front lines of our local communities so that others can live in peace.

As I close, my heart is heavy, and my eyes are filled with tears to see such a thing happen in such a beautiful place as Kenai, Alaska.

Tom Bearup

Phoenix, Ariz.

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