September 7, 2020
Lincoln police officer Mario Herrera was shot in the line-of-duty while serving a felony arrest warrant related to a homicide. He was transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha where he underwent a number of surgeries. He died Monday at 3:30 a.m. He is survived by a wife and four children.
I paid my respects as his body was transported back home to Lincoln. In the two-block area I could observe, there were about 300 people with flags and supportive signs. Both the Omaha and Ralston Fire Departments were along the procession route. I counted 27 motorcycles and the entire procession was at least one mile long.
While waiting, I had the good fortune to be able to chat with Omaha police officer Joe Nickerson. He was in touch with one of his co-workers who was at the hospital. He told me there were protestors at the hospital. Protestors! You can’t get much lower than that. Officer Nickerson also told me that there were mourners along all the Interstate 80 overpasses between Omaha and Lincoln. That’s fifty miles. Officer Nickerson has worked in other jurisdictions and he told me the Omaha police appreciate community support.
I grew up in the neighborhood where the University of Nebraska Medical Center is located. As a kid, the police put on a safe walk to school program at a nearby park. Nearly 60 years later I still remember it. One thing I remember is that the police are your friend. Most people still believe that. This weekend there was a daytime shooting at that same park.
I had one other encounter with the Omaha police this weekend. I went to the local Barnes & Noble to buy Michael Anton’s new book The Stakes. Two policemen were trying to calm and deal with a guy who had obvious mental problems. They were skillful in their interactions with him. I thought how tough it must be to be a cop in 2020. The simplest call can go sideways real fast as someone might pull a gun on you. And, of course, anti-police bystanders can pull their phones, start recording and agitate.
I don’t think it is too much to ask that people obey the law and respect the police. They have difficult jobs. They protect us from the bad guys. They are our friends. That’s why we give them the guns.