I would like to dedicate this column to all the men and women out there that serve and protect this area.

I wake up every day thankful that we have the protection and professionalism from our men and women wearing the blue.

To many of us, cops can be easily described as brave leaders in our communities, that’s certainly how I think of them.

Just last week we had a severe tractor trailer situation which traveled through three counties at high rates of speed that ended with our local law enforcement protecting the citizens of this area, with no harm done to us.

The driver of that semi was as reckless as anyone in this area has ever seen before shooting several bullets at our officers while also slamming into several patrol cars during the hour-long craziness that ended in Geneseo. One particular bullet came within 1/4 of an inch of striking a Genesee County Deputy in the head. Several others bullets struck several Livingston County Sheriff cars, Genesee County Sheriff cars and a Le Roy police car as well.

These were all cops that have families. Cops that have wives, husbands, babies, teenagers, adult kids, parents and grandparents. These cops all have families that count on them each and every day and there they were putting all that in the line of duty to protect us citizens.

Just this week I asked LCN Athlete of the Year Grace Rittenhouse, whose father Dan is a cop in Livingston County, what she thought when she first heard the news that her dad was in pursuit of this wannabe cop killer.

You could tell while she thought about what to say to me, and how to say it, the pain it had caused knowing her dad was out there in the line of duty.

She was choked up as any kid would be about their dad. And understandably so. That was her number one fan and father of three girls in that Livingston County shoot out.

These were real people out there protecting us, not some movie of the week at the drive-in.

These were real guns and real bullets.

And real lives were all at stake.

That semi was on a death wish and wanted nothing more than to take some lives with him.

But only his was taken.

By our officers, our protectors.

Quite honestly, when I first heard the scanner and then the sirens, my first thought was “this guy messed with the wrong cops,” knowing many that were involved in the pursuit. “This will not end well for this trucker.”

And it didn’t.

I knew these cops would protect us at all costs, because that’s what they have always done. That’s why they all wear that shield so proudly.

I appreciate the men and women serving this country like most American’s do. I always appreciate the men and women wearing the blue.

In my opinion, I have always felt safe in this area, knowing that the men and women in blue had my back, everyone’s back.

Sadly, every single day a police officer loses his or her life in the line of duty while life protecting us.

In fact, 103 officers have died since Jan. 1, 2020 (see https://www.odmp.org/search/year/2020).

Several have passed away due to COVID-19, while most of us have been home under quarantine, these cops were not offered that luxury and several have now lost their lives.

Many other cops were killed by gunfire in the past six months, with others were struck by a car or involved in a deathly car chase.

Just last week, 29-year-old Las Vegas cop Shay Mikalonis was shot in the head while attempting to disperse a group of protesters. He is expected to spend the rest of his life on a ventilator.

So while there are a small few out there that choose to continue disrespecting and disobeying the law, I choose to appreciate and respect all cops, on all levels, each and every day, and will continue to do so.

Most of us work jobs where we are pretty much assured of coming home each and every night to our kids and family.

These police officers do not have that luxury. Nothing for them is a guarantee.

May 28 — the night that tractor trailer attempted that killing spree — certainly wasn’t.

But our local cops didn’t flinch. not even for a second.

They protected us as they always have.

So, from the mounted patrol officers — to the street patrol deputies and officers — to all the detectives and investigators — to the court bailiffs and corrections officers — to the K-9 sergeants and officers and the college campus cops — to all the state, county and village police departments, thanks for all that you do to protect us from harm’s way.

While some might not show it, I believe most of the nation truly appreciates everything you do and we are all very grateful from keeping us safe.

Please thank each and every one of these officers when you see them.

Genesee County Sheriff’s Department- Sheriff Sheron, Bradley Mazur, Brian Frieday, Joseph Graff, Thomas Sanfratello, Ronald Meides, John Baiocco, Jason Saile, Andrew Hale, James Diehl, Michael Lute, Ronald Welker, Chad Minuto, Christopher Parker, Joseph Loftus, Kevin Forsyth, Timothy Wescott, Howard Carlson, Deborah Snyder, Patrick Reeves, Lonnie Nati, John Weis, Christopher Erion, Cory Mower, Kevin McCarthy, Chad Cummings, Richard Schildwaster, Ryan DeLong, Rachel Diehl, Eric Meyer, Ryan Young, Robert Henning, Kyle Krzemien, Jeremy McClellan, Mathew Clor, Howard Wilson IV, Travis DeMuth, Jenna Ferrando, James Stack, Andrew Mullen, Austin Heberlein, Erik Andre, Joshua Brabon, David Moore, Kenneth Quackenbush, Nicholas Chamoun, Jordan Alejandro, Brock Cummins, Jonathan Dimmig and Jacob Gauthier.

Livingston County Sheriff’s Department- Sheriff Dougherty, Undersheriff Bean, Chiefs Rittenhouse, Yasso and Swanson; Captains Applin and Galvin; Sergeants Orman, Breu, Zambito, Moran, Draper, Merrick and VanAuken; Deputies Wade, Patterson, Kane, Mann, Noto, Cartwright, Gerace, Harrington, Butterbrodt, Cutting, Richardson, Donals, Morgan, Didas, Barrett, Thomas, Cushman, Eaton, Peck, Yencer, Clarke, Pilkenton, Holt, Herkimer, Sweeting, Phillips, Babocsi, Hilt, Bulter, Truax, VanDunk, Granita, Chanler, Cicoria, Clark, McGee, Morsch, Young, Bloom, Bradley, Schirmer, Wall, Morris, Gage, Telesca, Mattingly, Smith, Ippolito, Donato, Maloney, Miller, Zingaro, Ricks, Swede, Faugh, Rychlicki, Boor, Zeh, Babocsi and Bowser; and Investigators Schneider, Chichester, Whitford, Monster, Williams, and Sanford.

Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department- Sheriff Rudolph, Undersheriff Linder; Captains Till and Tamol, Sergeants Heim. Reagan, Bryant, Chase and Jorgensen; Investigators Anderson, Tisdale and McGinnis; and Deputies Omans. Felix, Miller. Majtyka, Ficarella, Carrasquillo, Kemp, Sage, Previty, Button, West, George, Houghton, Sampson, Asquith, Nowak, Hope, Bliss, Harding, Wright, Cunningham, Richardson, Coveny, Linderman, Russell and Hummel.

Avon- Chief Geer, Timothy Ferrara Jr., Matt McFadden, Kenneth Ippolito, Tamara Bingham, Travis McFadden, Rick Gage, Kevin Geer, and Nick Greco.

Batavia- Chief Heubusch, Christopher Camp, Daniel Coffey, Mitchell Cowen, Eric Bolles, Marc Lawrence, and Matt Lutey.

Dansville- Sergeant Griese and Officers Burley, Chapman, Vandunk, Cole, Turnbull, Allen and Shindler.

Geneseo- Chief Osganian, Benjamin Swanson, Daniel Piedmonte, Raymond Goulet, Christopher Matteson, Travis Lana, Dylan DiPasquale, Katelyn Brado, Jeffery Szczesniak, Kristofor O’Rourke, Jason Yasso, and Robert Fuller.

Le Roy- Chief Hayward, Sergeants Condidorio, McNamara, and Kellogg; Officers Cappotelli, Steinbrenner, Miller, Cole, Pratt, McFadden and Phillips.

Mount Morris- Chief Jeff Wiedrick, Sergeant Gates,Officer Brado, Officer Forrester, Officer Hoy, Officer Roegner, Officer Soto, Officer Regal, Officer VanDunk, Officer Barnhart, Officer Beers and Officer Bryant.

Perry- Chief Grover, Blake Russell, James Prusak, Gordon Truax, Matthew Masci, Gregory Smith, David Spink, MacKaylee Croll, and Joseph Hopper.

Warsaw- Chief Hoffmeister.

— Chris Metcalf, is regional sports editor of The Daily News and Livingston County News.

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