Archive for the ‘Funeral’ Category
Tragic loss brings city together By Doug McIntyre, Columnist
NEVER, in my nearly twenty-five years in Los Angeles, have I been more proud to live here. A little more than a week ago, this city paid tribute to slain SWAT Officer Randy Simmons. In a ceremony lasting the better part of a beautiful sunny Friday, Officer Simmons was remembered as a cop’s cop, the epitome of what a badge can be. But as his life was presented by witness after witness, the magnitude of our loss was driven home.
The loss of Randy Simmons brought this city together in ways I have never experienced. For three-plus hours, blacks and whites, Hispanics and Asians wept together, sang together, smiled in fond remembrance together, for a life brilliantly lived. For one day at least, our local leaders had genuine heartfelt eloquence, and the city of Los Angeles presented itself to the world as a city of competence and a city that cares.
We have lost great cops before, and that’s no small thing.
However, Randy Simmons was so much more. He was the embodiment of manhood. Not the hyper-Stallone, steel-cage fighting, gangsta nitwit version of manhood marketed to young boys in movies, music, TV and video games. Randy Simmons was not just a hero on the street; he was a hero at home. A father in the truest sense of the word, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a neighbor.
When a deeply disturbed failure assassinated his family in Winnetka and called 911 challenging the police to “come and get me,” Los Angeles sent the very best in the world: SWAT Officers James Veenstra and Randal Simmons. With the hope of saving those already shot by a madman and with the hope of rescuing a terrified hostage hiding in a closet, James Veenstra entered the home and was promptly shot in the face at nearly point-blank range. Without hesitation, Randy Simmons went in to save his wounded partner, and now the wound is felt citywide.
I never knew Officer Simmons. That is my loss. I feel it deeply, and can barely imagine the void felt by his children, Matthew and Gabriella, and Lisa Simmons, Randy’s wife of 17 years.
The funeral service for Officer Simmons was telecast locally. It was a brilliant decision to carry this event to hundreds of thousands beyond the 10,000 plus packed into the Crenshaw Christian Center’s Faith Dome. The front-page photos of the pageantry, as impressive as it was, hardly told the story. Only the grief and joy of Randall Simmons’ life, as recounted by those who lived it with him, could impress upon us the magnitude of our loss.
This was reality TV that elevated human dignity.
We live in justifiably cynical times. Randal Simmons was the antidote to cynicism. He was the cure for all that ails today’s Los Angeles. He represented not only the best of what a man should be, the best of what a law enforcement officer should be, he represented the best of what a person of faith should be. He was loving and nonjudgmental, he talked the talk and walked the walk.
The funeral of Office Randy Simmons allowed us to see another side of the Los Angeles Police Department – the best side. This is the real LAPD, not the blunders of MacArthur Park, or as Mayor Villaraigosa said to applause, “not the LAPD of consent decrees” and certainly not the loathsome and vile depiction presented in the Academy Award-winning film “Crash.”
This is an LAPD made up of thousands of men and women of all religions, all races, working for a common purpose: “To Protect and Serve.” Occasionally the cops come up short. That shouldn’t minimize the ideals of a department charged with securing one of the most complex and challenging urban environments on the planet. It shouldn’t minimize our sense of gratitude. We have a great Police Department.
The funeral for Officer Randy Simmons was theatrical perfection: dignified, eloquent, musical, faith-affirming, joyous, tear-wrenching, inspiring yet, unexpressed but just below the surface, enraging.
Why Randy? Why did Randal Simmons have to die?
Maybe so the rest of us would care just a little bit more about the city he loved. The City of Angels lost an angel. But Los Angeles could gain a higher sense of civic pride and connectedness if we take the lessons of Randy Simmons’ life and live them ourselves. This would be a tribute even Officer Simmons would not be too humble to accept.
Officer Randal Simmons eulogy Eulogy given by chief william bratton for officer randal simmons on february 15, 2008. I want to talk briefly with you about my impressions of randy simmons and about a life well led. Many of us in this church are privileged to wear the badge that identifies us as police officers or firefighters. Ninety six hundred los angeles police officers like randy wear a badge that is probably the most well known and recognized in the world. And like randy, we wear it with pride.
We are privileged because our society has placed in our hands a sacred trust – every day when we pin our badge on our chest and go out into the streets of our city, we are given the opportunity to do good against evil – to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone who lives, works or visits our communities. We get to protect and to serve. Randy simmons, los angeles police officer, badge 8579, for 27 years, was the living embodiment of that motto. He understood that when he began his policing career on elysian field those many years ago that he had been given the opportunity to make a difference. To make his life as a cop count for something – and he has succeeded, far beyond even his own dreams and expectations – the thousands of you gathered here today are the living proof and recognition of that success.
Randy, in particular, because of his assignment to the fabled lapd swat unit, understood the special obligation and life-threatening risks that are required at any moment of any police officer or firefighter—to run toward danger, never from it, even as we move the weak, the impaired and the innocent away from that danger. During his career with his beloved swat, he went toward those dangers, through those doors into the unknown that awaited him and his fellow officers, hundreds, if not thousands of times, but he would be the first to tell you that because of his deep religious faith and convictions, and his continual thriving to be in a constant state of grace with his god, he went through those doors, into the valley of death, fearing no evil for he knew that his god was with him and if it was to be his time, then to lie beside the still waters in the heaven that he so deeply believed in. He would be ready to stand proudly at the doors to heaven, knowing, for the first time, what lay beyond those doors. As his loving wife lisa told me – he would be in a place where there was no pain and where the streets would be paved with gold. He has truly gone home.
His life’s journey as a husband, father, humanitarian, minister and cop, at an end. He is in the place he was always meant to be and he will wait for us there to meet him again. And if there is any delay in opening those doors, he can always employ the battering ram that he was so skilled at using in swat. To the swat officers who were in the thick with him in the early morning hours of thursday, february 7th, Dave keorgte Tom chinappi Jim veenstra German hurtado Floyd curry Tony samuelson Mike barker Michael odle George ryan Steve scallon Chuck buttitta And to the many other members of swat who he loved and who loved and respected him, console yourself that “the rock” spent his last moments in the company of you, his police family. He understood and appreciated your desperate efforts to save him and keep him with us, but this time the pull of his god to bring him home was just too compelling.
To his wife lisa, his son matthew, his daughter gabrielle, and his mother constance, as well as to all his family members, on behalf of the men and women of the lapd who i proudly speak for this morning, thank you, thank you for sharing him with us, all those countless days and nights when he was away from you. Lisa, thank you for sharing your “ultimate” man with us. Matthew and gabrielle, try hard to always honor your father’s memory. And to the community that he protected and served, it is said “no man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” Well, if that’s the case, then randy was truly a giant. His love for children, particularly disadvantaged children, his “glory kids” knew no bounds. As lisa told mayor villaraigosa and me, “no man ever brought so many children to god.” that was his true passion in life. Swat commander mike albanese told me this little story that i think says it all.
Community involvement Randy’s commitment and dedication to the community was unmatched. He was constantly working in the community to help and encourage those people who were truly disadvantaged. He was unselfish with his time and his money. He used his personal time (days off – overtime days) to try to improve many lives with his presence. This was a man who worked in challenging areas to reach out to as many people as he could. He impacted so many lives. Trips to the movies, beach, parks, skate parks, and zoo. All of the places a young person would want to visit. Randy knew that many of these kids would never see/experience these places if he or someone else did not take the lead. He worked quietly during his outreach with the community.
Some of his peers did not realize the depth and breadth of his work in the community. One example was when he asked one of our swat officers if he would consider letting some of the kids come out to his horse ranch and ride his horses. Metro officers steve and mary grace weaver welcomed the opportunity to share their time and horses with the kids – a great opportunity for everyone. Randy was a little vague as to how many kids he was bringing out to their home. As mary grace weaver describes it, a large chartered bus shows up at the house with over sixty kids on the bus. None of these kids had ever been around horses and through randy’s persistence – steve and mary’s hospitality, over sixty kids rode horses and enjoyed a barbeque.
In closing, let me read to you the following prayer i think randy would have liked. To those i love and those who love me When i am gone release me. Let me go – i have so many things to see and do. You must not tie yourself to me with tears. Be thankful for our many beautiful years. I gave to you my love. You can only guess how much you gave to me in happiness. I thank you for the love we each have shown but now it’s time i traveled on alone. So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must. Then let your grief be comforted by trust. It’s only for a time that we must part so bless the memories within your heart. I won’t be far away, for life goes on. So if you need me, call and i will come. Though you can’t see or touch me, i’ll be near. And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear all my love around you soft and clear. And then when you must come this way alone, i’ll greet you with a smile, and say…welcome home!