Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chief Maloney

So a story has been dominating our lives for the past two weeks, and since none of you live nearby, I felt the need to pass it on. And not just our lives, but anyone who lives in New Hampshire (or Massachusetts or Maine, for that matter). Two weeks ago in Greenland, NH (one town over from us), there was a stand off between police from neighboring towns and a druggie who had barricaded himself into his house. What was supposed to just be the presentation of a search warrant and then a search of the property turned into the guy shooting five cops. One of those cops was Chief Maloney. 

He was EIGHT DAYS away from retirement and this was his last big job before he was done. He was the only one of the injured who died. This has hit my life, as he would work at the movie theater for the "rowdy" movies or the movies that needed additional carding, so I had met him many times and all of my good friends who currently work at the movie theater have been hit particularly hard by this. We're all particularly angry about it because it doesn't feel "worthwhile" - the idiot killed himself anyway, so he wasn't even brought to justice. However, it's not all bad news.

In driving to work everyday, I drive through Greenland. The day after the shooting, I saw an immediate change in Greenland. Every flag in the seacoast area of New Hampshire was flying at half, and every business in Greenland had some sort of sign outside of the establishment with prayers, thoughts, and condolences for Chief Maloney. (My favorite is "Maloney - Protecting Heaven.") 

I knew that this loss was having a widespread effect when I saw how quickly everyone reacted to it. Then, a week later, his funeral effectively shutdown the seacoast. Over 5,000 police officers went to his funeral, not to mention that civilians were out en masse for it. 

I was starting to think that that would be that. Tragedies have a way of peaking and then fading off, and there are some left hanging on and wondering why people don't still care about it. However, that's not what happened in this case.

It started off fifteen police officers wanting to run the 5.6 miles from the Portsmouth Police Department to the Greenland Police Department in the chief's honor. Then they opened it up and it was "let's all get together and walk or run in his honor." 

Within a few days, people came out in huge numbers to help out. Suddenly, a major event organizer/race chip (timing) company offered their services for free so the race could be timed and the runners could have bibs. Local businesses donated water by the palette. Local restaurants donated food for post-race. Buses donated their services to shuttle the runners from the finish line back to the start and their cars. Shirt and hat companies donated the race swag to give to the runners. Usually races take 6 to 9 months to organize, and because of the impact Chief Maloney had on this community, it was pulled together in approximately a week and a half. About 2,100 people raced, and over $40,000 was raised for the chief's family.

I think it's an amazing story, and while his death is a tragedy that would be considered film worthy (8 days before retirement - ugh), the community's response is something I never could have fathomed. Who needs big cities? 

Do me a favor... next time you see a cop, tell him thank you.

**Next update will be about the race itself, but I felt you needed some background before then.**

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