It has happened again. A police officer, doing his job, is dead. His blood spilled out on the Franconia streets that Bruce McKay swore to protect and serve. He has now done more than swear to that; he has died for it.

Bruce McKay is gone. His jokes, his hopes, his dislikes, his loves, his disappointments, his tears, his laugh, the way he was odd, the way he was the same, his hobbies, interests, and peculiarities are no more. Forever. He was 43.

He attended the New Hampshire Police Academy. He made friends there. He was a patrol officer. On his chest he wore a badge. On the shoulder he wore the patch of the Franconia New Hampshire Police Department. He worked the swing shift: afternoons.

When he arrived at work last Friday, May 11 | his last Friday | he put on his uniform and his belt. On his belt were the tools that society tells him to carry, tools that put him in danger, but assure that we are safe: a loaded gun, handcuffs, magazines with more bullets, OC spray, maybe a baton, a Taser, a radio, a flashlight and a knife.

He joked or maybe complained or maybe did not speak except to catch up on the day with the officer he relieved or his supervisor. Maybe he finished paperwork or wished he were home with his fiancée or his kids on what was now a beautiful afternoon.

Maybe he thought about whether Julian Tavarez would pitch as well as he did in Minnesota last Sunday. He would never know. Thirty minutes before the first pitch at Fenway, he was dead. Forever. He gave his life, the only thing any one of us really has, to his community so that you and I would be safe.

There will be a parade. Politicians will march; they will speak of his service, his virtue. They will tell us not to forget his sacrifice. They will make sure that you know of their support for cops, for him.

They will not ask at his funeral, "Was he on an overtime shift? A double? Was he on a detail?" Would it have made any difference in how he acted?

For some of our political leaders in the local towns and cities of New Hampshire, in the New Hampshire Senate, in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, in the New Hampshire Governor's Office who will this week be out in force professing their support and appreciation of cops, it does make a difference.

They think that those times, when the officer is not working his or her regular shift, should not be included in that officer's pension. They think you should hold the line on salaries. They think you should cut benefits. They think support is a good speech at a funeral, not fair and decent salary and benefits with a pension for your years of putting your life on the line every day.

Make no mistake: even though a police officer is on overtime or on a detail, he or she wears a vest and a gun. Every day in every community in this state, while on straight time or on an overtime shift or a detail, every police officer must be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

No doubt someone, incensed and filled with the spirit of righteous conduct, will say that these words are unfair; that this is not the time. As a cop, as a citizen who is safer and more secure because Bruce McKay served, I disagree.

Cops die in the line of duty every day, while politicians refuse to negotiate contracts, debate pensions, and cut benefits. It is the time. Right now. Because these words are true: when a cop goes to work on overtime, on a detail on his shift, he or she might die.

Goodbye Corporal McKay. Thank you for the life you have given. For the honor with which you served. For the willingness with which you gave your gift, your life, for us. Farewell.



Londonderry police Capt. Bill Hart's column appears Fridays in the Derry News.



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