"In valor there is hope." These words are inscribed on the memorial wall at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. Also on that wall are the names of more than 20,000 law enforcement officers known to have been killed in the line of duty in the United States since 1791. Among those names is my friend and police academy classmate, Sgt. Hector Ayala. I won't pretend Hector and I were the closest of friends, but we wore the same badge and patrolled the same streets, and in that, he was my brother- as all law enforcement officers are.
A Montgomery County, Maryland police officer, Hector died in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010 when he was involved in a motor vehicle collision enroute to back-up another officer in need of help. In the blur of the days that followed, I was asked by the police department's executive staff to photograph the funeral, so that Hector's as-yet unborn triplets would be able to know how we honored their father. I was unsure of it at first, scared, honestly, to photograph something so personal and emotional, and also wanting to stand in uniform with my academy classmates. Ultimately I agreed to take the photos, knowing it was really the only thing I could do for Hector and his wife at the time.
I've been scared to show the photos to anyone but a few people, worried they aren't 'good enough,' or some other such nonsense I guess. Over time I managed to misplace the files on my hard drives, finally just finding them again this past week. And finally, five years late, Hector's wife can now share these images with their four children, so that they may understand how we honored their father and celebrated his life that day.
A few of the images are posted here, more can be seen on my main site under personal work, End of Watch.