Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
One year ago today, members of our community took to the streets of downtown Dallas to exercise their first amendment rights by speaking out and peacefully protesting against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. What began as a peaceful evening ended with a deliberate and barbarous attack on local law enforcement.
The calculated ambush and murder of the law enforcement officers in Dallas was a disgraceful act of violence. Yet in the face of such horrific adversity, these valiant officers did everything possible to prevent the further loss of life. They bravely charged into direct gunfire in an effort to protect the city and its people from the deranged assailant. Despite all the horrors of that evening, what I was able to witness and am proud of today is how police officers, citizens, and the entire city of Dallas came together in the wake of such a devastating event.
In these moments of reflection, we need to remember that these brave members of the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) were not just officers. These brave men were also sons, fathers, brothers, friends, and colleagues to many of us in Dallas. We must never forget to acknowledge the pain that their family, partners, friends, co-workers, and fellow Dallas-ites endure on a daily basis since that tragic evening. But we must also never forget the victims’ names: DPD Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, DPD Officer Michael Krol, DPD Sgt. Michael Smith, DART Officer Brent Thompson, and DPD Officer Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa.
DPD Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens – Lorne Ahrens was a Senior Corporal in the Dallas Police Department, where he served for fourteen years. He worked for a time in the dangerous and unpredictable job of serving warrants, where a simple knock on the door could escalate into a life-threatening situation. Before moving to the Dallas area, Ahrens served in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for eleven years. For part of that time, he was a law enforcement technician, inputting and dispatching calls to the station, a demanding job that required fast thinking and professional calm. Yet, anyone who saw him interact with his family knew the biggest thing about him was his heart.
DPD Officer Michael Krol – Officer Krol was just 40 years old when he lost his life. His goal was to serve in law enforcement and when the opportunity within the Dallas Police Department presented itself, Officer Krol took the risk by moving halfway across the country to Dallas in pursuit of his dream. After years of hard work and preparation, Officer Krol graduated from the Dallas Police Academy on April 25, 2008. He was a dedicated public servant who worked his way up from a position as a security guard for a Michigan hospital, to a Wayne County sheriff’s deputy, and ultimately a Dallas Police Department Officer.
DPD Sgt. Michael Smith – Smith worked in the Dallas Police Department for over twenty five years. During his time in the department, he gained a reputation for doing thorough and dependable work. He was recognized multiple times throughout his career, most notably winning the distinguished honor of being called the “Cops’ Cop.” The only thing that outweighed his work ethic at the department was his easygoing and affable manner. Prior to joining the Dallas Police Department, Smith served seven years as an Army Ranger, where he developed a strong sense of service and an unparalleled dedication to helping others. On Sundays, he acted as a uniformed guard at the Watermark Church in Farmers Branch. There, he charmed children every Sunday by showing them his squad car or telling them dry but easy jokes. People at the church were both protected and entertained by Smith.
DART Officer Brent Thompson – He was the first DART police officer to be killed in the line of duty since DART first formed a police department in 1989. Officer Thompson was hailed as a “great officer” and one who had served the DART Police Department admirably since joining in 2009. Some knew Officer Thompson as the veteran officer who bravely charged at the shooter in an attempt to stop him during his rampage. Others knew him as a former Marine who helped train and mentor local police in Afghanistan and Iraq.
DPD Officer Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa – Before joining the Dallas Police Department in 2011, Officer Zamarripa served three tours in Iraq as active duty for the U.S. Navy and then an additional 5 years of military service in the reserves. He was the recipient of numerous awards for his years of service, including the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
Our response going forward, not just in Dallas but across our nation, will be more important now than ever before. Over the past year, I convened a Task Force on Citizen Review of Police charged with identifying the underlying issues throughout our community and to lay out proactive measures that we can take to remedy such problems. The task force was compromised of citizen groups, community activists, advocates, and local law enforcement. It is crucial that we address any concerns and educate both law enforcement and members in the community on how to better engage with one another. One way to do so is by bringing interest groups to the same table for an open and honest dialogue.
And, it is with the help of the Assist the Officer Foundation, Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation, and so many other groups and organizations that we have been able to move the conversation forward to help prevent future acts of violence.