Early Easter Sunday morning, Hector Ayala was killed in a one car collision as he rushed to the aid of a Signal 13. A fellow officer who was responding to a fight call at a nearby restaurant needed assistance and called for a "Signal 13"-the police code for an officer in trouble. When this code goes out, all officers know that one of their brothers may be in a life or death situation and all effort is made to render assistance quickly.
As the wife of a police officer, this is hard to process.
While we were dating and definitely after we got engaged, people would often ask me if I were scared for him, or I ever worried when he worked? They were difficult questions to answer. I would answer of yes, I worried, but I couldn't let it consume me. But, I didn't find myself worrying as often as other people seemed to think I should. I hadn't really be faced with anything that had caused me to worry too much, I guess I was in denial.
Since then, there have been a few more local police deaths, including a young man that Pat attended the Police Academy with. Each one tugs at my heart and reminds me how quickly things could change.
Maybe it is because I am a counselor by profession, or maybe it is just because of who we are as people and the mutual trust and respect we have for each other, but Pat and I couldn't imagine our marriage without full disclosure. Especially now that he is in a management role, Pat often runs situations past me and we bounce ideas back and forth. He recommends to his officers to keep their spouses informed to relieve the stress of the job. Unfortunately, not a whole lot of them follow his advice. I am a firm believer that ignorance breeds fear; if we have no idea what is going on, we build up an amazing fear of what could be going on instead of what is really happening. I am sure, Pat keeps some things to himself, and that is fine. But hearing about the types of calls he goes on and the way he handles situations, helps me to know the type of officer he is and that he has the skills to keep himself and those around him safe.
My heart goes out to the Ayala family and especially his wife. Thank God for the kindness of legislators and strangers that there is financial help for the families of officers who die in the line of duty. Both the Federal and State governments have set up compensation for the families and COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors)does a wonderful job of providing many services to the family. There is also a fund set up by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 to aid the family.
Officer Hector Ayala
Badge Number 2128
End of Watch 4/4/2010