In Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota lays to rest an “Average” Hero named Joe Gomm


The family of Joseph Brian Gomm, 45, laid him to rest.

They were joined by thousands of fellow men and women from across America who have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving Minnesotans.

According to the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) there are a total of 431 law enforcement agencies in Minnesota.

They range from departments with nearly 1,000 peace officers to those as few as 3.

As of the date which POST published this information there was roughly 10,918 licensed Peace Officers.

On June 18th that number dropped by one.

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes there is one less Hero serving the people of Minnesota.

Joseph Gomm is not the last of the brave men and women we will lose in the line of duty in Minnesota — or in America.

It is the terrifying reality of serving in one of the most dangerous jobs society has deemed necessary to maintain the rule of law.

We have lost nearly 250 members of law enforcement in Minnesota throughout the years in some form of line of duty death.  Across America that number is in the thousands.

Each and every one of them is a loss for their family and those that love them the most.

Yet, each and every one of them is a loss for our community and another tear in the fabric of our communities.

It serves no useful purpose to dwell on the manner in which Officer Gomm took his last breath other than to say that it was brutal, tragic and heartbreaking.

He was a young man.  From all accounts a good man.  Someone who took pride in his job.  His community.

His obituary states that “Joe enjoyed cooking, playing online video games, and had a love of animals. His quick witty demeanor will be missed by all.”

That seems so…human.

Nothing pretentious.  No grand and sweeping description that offers us any reason to believe that Joe was any more, or any less, an “average” Joe.

I have spent a lifetime surrounded by “average” Joe’s who have put their lives on the line protecting and serving our communities.

This much is true, there is nothing average about any of them when it comes to their courage and commitment.

From the small-town cop to the big city police chief I have come to appreciate and honor the difficult job and role they play in our lives.

They are no longer being asked to stop crime.  Arrest bad guys.  And, serve as the barrier between us and evil.

We call upon them perform countless tasks each and everyday that go above and beyond what any of us would ever do.

Yes, it is true, it was their choice to pursue this career.

It is also true that among the ranks of the 10, 917 licensed Peace Officers there are those that do not serve with the level of distinction and integrity we ask them to aspire to when they don the uniform of their respective agency.

Over the past several years we have seen a greater demand from the public for more accountability from and in law enforcement.

That’s a good thing for all of us – including those who serve in law enforcement.

But there has also been an intensifying attack on the character of police officers throughout the country.

From local politicians who declare that police brutality is a “public health crisis” to those who suggest we should disarm, or more bizarrely, abolish police officers, the men and women who serve our communities are under increasing attack from those they serve.

There is no question that there is a greater degree of scrutiny that should be given to those who have the tools, the means and, often the necessity, to inflict deadly force in our communities.

We should hold them to a higher standard because of their profession.

But, we should not hold them to a different standard because of who they are as a person.

Joe Gomm, like Bill Mathews, like Ron Ryan, Jr., Tim Jones and hundreds of other men and women of law enforcement who have given their lives in the line of duty were living, breathing human beings.

Hopes and aspirations for themselves, their family and for their community.

Not even one of them put on their uniform on the day of their end of watch believing they would not step back through the door of their home into the loving arms of those who embraced them.

Joe Gomm, who enjoyed cooking, playing video games, loved animals and had a quick and witty demeanor, gave his life so somebody else’s life would not be given.

He, like thousands of others across America, fell doing the work and the jobs few of us would ever willingly choose to do.

Blessed be the Peacemakers.

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