|KOAT news about to go 'live'|
Less than 28 hours ago, the city of Rio Rancho lost an officer after being shot during a routine traffic stop. Yet, there was nothing routine about it.
Rio Rancho is a small community-less than 95,000 residents-with about 130 police officers to serve and protect it. Since we've lived here (21 years), one of the things we've always been proud of and considered to be Rio Rancho's best asset is our Department of Public Safety-our Police and Fire. We do have the best. But, now, we have one less and all of us in the community are thoroughly shaken by this loss. This is the first time since the city's inception 34 years ago that one of our officers was fatally shot.
Within 24 hours a candlelight vigil was organized-a lot to get together in so short a time, but oh-so-needed (thank you to those that worked behind the scenes to make this happen). And some were surprised (I wasn't) at the turnout for this show of support for the family of Officer Gregg Benner and support for our men and women in blue. Such a contrast to how other citizens in other cities regard their police force. As a community, we value and respect our law enforcement-this is not an easy job nor is it for the weak. The outpouring of love and support tonight was something to behold, America. Take notice. We were there as a community to grieve, hold each other up, convey condolences and to let those know who put their lives on the line every day how much we need and appreciate them.
I am so proud of our city. I am grateful for our officers of the law. I am grateful for all the other agencies that pulled out all the stops to catch the suspect-it was amazing at how the two counties and cities (Bernalillo and Sandoval County, the sheriffs, the city of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho and the FBI) all worked together furiously and non-stop to track down the suspect.
Even all the news stations did a remarkable job of covering this story and of conveying how it rocked our community and also telling the story of how special a person Officer Benner was.
What really brought it into an even sharper focus for me was on the way home from the candlelight vigil (we only live less than a 1/4 mile from the scene) at the site that Officer Benner was taken down, has become a live shrine. People stopping to place flowers, votive candles, American flags, etc. Many stayed long enough in silence-sending prayers out to our fallen officer.
You see, this is how Rio Rancho does it America-take notice!