The wife of slain D.C. police Sgt. Joseph M. Cournoyer has sent us the following communication:
Joe told me that he wanted to be a police officer to help people. I was skeptical. That was not my view of the police. They were macho men who wrote tickets and intimidated people. They were not people who changed tires for the older folks, who made sure that senile people were taken care of, who talked people out of killing themselves, who helped women find out how to keep from being beaten unconscious for the fourth time, or who bought candy for little children in the 7-Eleven.
My view of the police changed over the almost six years I was married to Joe, from one of skepticism to one of deep respect.
Joe was a very kind, compassionate, understanding man with a sense of humor that could get him through almost any situation. He was a very good cop who loved his job and actually liked the people he came into contact with. He felt he was doing something that enabled him to help others. I felt, although I never told him, that he was doing a job that almost no one appreciated.
When Joe was killed, I saw how people cared. I think it was the first time that I realized how many lives had been touched by Joe. People and companies sent food, drinks, cards and flowers. The police department helped in any and every way possible. Almost 500 people came to the wake, and many told me of their love and respect for Joe or how he had helped them. As the funeral procession went by, children saluted and an old gentleman put his hat over his heart. Almost 1,000 people came out in the freezing rain to say goodbye. Everyone was as helpful as was humanly possible, and I want to thank everyone involved.
My view of the police changed with experience, and now my view of the public's appreciation and respect for them has changed. I now know what Joe always knew, that although there are people out there who would like to see every cop in the country killed, there are a great many more who love, respect and appreciate them.
Although nothing will ever bring my Joe back, it helps a little to know that so many people loved and respected him.
To Joe, let me say our fairy-tale life has ended, but I will always love you and will always be proud of you and your profession. I guess it's like you said a few weeks ago -- our life was just too good to be true.
To the public, I want to say thank you for all your help and for showing me that there are people who care about and support our police.
To the police, I would like to say, Joe loved you, and I thank you.