In our New Year’s Day editorial, we made clear that 2021 was not a “happy new year” relative to public safety. Our founder also made clear that for 2022 to be a “happy new year,” resolve would be required. On 29 December 2021, Bradley Police Sergeant Rittmanic’s last known words were to her attacker, as her own gun was pointed at her head. “Just leave, you don’t have to do this. Please just go. Please don’t. Please don’t.” Yet, her attacker was determined to kill her anyway and did. Yesterday, Illinois buried Sergeant Marlene Rittmanic. Today, we ask whether our community is fully resolved to say: “Enough!“ In 2022, will we demand our elected officials and the media stop demonizing the police? Will our courts be the place where consequences occur, or will the streets continue to be the place where the truth about consequences are most visible?
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Resolve to Acknowledge the Shots Being Fired at the Police
Sergeant Rittmanic and her partner, Police Officer Tyler Bailey, were among 346 American peace officers shot in the line of duty in 2021. Based upon data from the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), we know that 63 of them were killed by the gunfire they faced. Secure 1776 is reminded that in August 2021, Chicago witnessed the murder of Police Officer Ella French, and the near-fatal wounding of her partner, Officer Carlos Yanez, Jr. In 2021, 76 Chicago police officers faced gunfire, and Officers French and Yanez were among ten struck by gunfire.
Police Officer Bailey was shot in the head, as he and Sergeant Rittmanic investigated a complaint of a dog left locked in a car parked outside a Bradley, Illinois hotel on 29 December 2021. In the chaos of the attack, Sergeant Rittmanic was disarmed, and shot execution-style. Sergeant Rittmanic died of her injuries on 30 December 2021. Officer Bailey continues to recover from his near-fatal injuries. It also bears noting that earlier on 29 December 2021, Wayne County, Illinois Deputy Sheriff Sean Riley was also shot and killed in a separate attack.
Growing Issue of Ambush Attacks
FOP National President Patrick Yoes spoke out against the violence directed at the nation’s police officers in what we know was the “not happy” now passed year. “The recent erosion of respect for law enforcement coupled with public figures spewing anti-police rhetoric have fueled more aggression towards police officers than what has been seen in previous years —undoubtedly emboldening violent criminals to commit brazen acts of violence against law enforcement.”
The National FOP documented 130 ambush-style attacks on police officers during 2021, a 115% increase from 2020. These attacks are particularly deadly, and 30 officers died in such attacks in 2021. As noted in the above Fox News report, Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley was shot in an ambush-style attack on 16 December, and she died of her injuries on 23 December 2021. Officer Holley was attacked from behind by Travon Shaw, age 32, a violent felon awaiting trial on a gun possession charge. After shooting Officer Holley, Shaw and his accomplice, Elliot Knox (also a felon with a violent history) went and murdered a 27-year-old man.
Are Victims a Priority?
The comments on Officer Holley’s murder, from Baltimore (Soros-funded) prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, overlook how Mosby’s office has been tied to that city’s weakened response to lawlessness. The rise of lawlessness in connection with increasing “prosecutor nullification” of the law in America’s urban centers is evident. Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, and now New York City are just a sampling of the cities that have not shown a resolve to keep crime victims as a priority. As noted in the video clip above, just this week, newly-elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg ordered his office not to seek any jail time for most offenses, and to downgrade felony charges in cases including armed robberies and drug dealing. Increasingly since 2020, victims do not seem to be a true priority among key elected officials, prosecutors, even judges within far too many communities.
The Resolve of Evil and Lawlessness
When Sergeant Rittmanic and Police Officer Tyler Bailey confronted Darius Sullivan and Xandria Harris in a Bradley hotel on 29 December 2021, Sullivan was wanted on an outstanding battery warrant. As noted above, the police officers were investigating the complaint of the barking dog left by Harris locked in her car. Harris repeatedly stalled in opening the hotel room door after Sergeant Rittmanic and Officer Bailey announced their office. After opening the door, Harris then actively blocked their way, which allowed Sullivan to quickly emerge and shoot Officer Bailey in the head. Sullivan and Harris actively struggled with Sergeant Rittmanic, disarmed her, and chased her down the hall. Harris, while armed, urged Sullivan to shoot Sergeant Rittmanic as she was pinned against a door and attempted to plea for the offenders to stop their attack.
Over the prior seven years, Sullivan had been arrested 21 times, including for burglary, possession of stolen firearms, criminal damage to government property, theft, resisting arrest, driving while under the influence and battery. Without question, Sullivan and Harris displayed a resolve not to cooperate, and a willingness to use violence.
As a community, we must not be confused. Those who would do evil to their fellow citizens are many. We know that 2020 stood out for the rapid rise in violence in America. The nation’s murder rate overall rocketed upward in 2020, as did attacks on the police. In Chicago, and far too many other cities, 2021 saw continued increases in violence. Lawlessness and violence are constrained only with the firm resolve of the community.
Resolve to Remember the Fallen, Including Sergeant Rittmanic
At her funeral, hundreds came out to pay their respects to Sergeant Marlene Rittmanic, murdered in service to her community. A former “officer of the year,” and a 21-year law enforcement veteran, Sergeant Rittmanic had resolved to serve, while knowing the dangers of her work. In 2001, twenty years before her own murder, Rittmanic authored a poem honoring her chosen profession. It is not how she died that we will find our greatest inspiration, rather it is in how Marlene Rittmanic lived her life. Her poem tells us much about the woman behind the badge. The poem is a reflection of all-levels leadership, and it read:
“The color we bleed is that of deep blue.
The blood that is shed is without asking for who.
No choice in what we do, where we go or when we die.
The color we bleed is that of deep blue.
All too often one will pay the ultimate price.
Those who wear the uniform accept the sacrifice.
Beyond the call of duty one day might be mine.
No regrets, sorrow or fear as I walk the blue line.
The color I’ll bleed is that of deep blue.”
A Widow’s Words:
At the funeral service, the widow of Sergeant Rittmanic, Lyn Stua, spoke about her wife’s commitment to the best ideals of the law enforcement profession and service to the community. Stua, asked her community to “back the blue,” and she asked for prayers for Officer Bailey, still gravely injured. She also asked for God’s speed in the investigation into the attack, and pleaded, “may justice be swift and reflective of their actions.” She pledged to her murdered wife, “I will ensure swift and reflective vengeance for you…”
Do We Have the Needed Resolve?
On New Year’s Day, our editorial cautioned against merely relying on a holiday greeting to glibly declare that we were headed into a “happy” new year. As a community, how are we doing one week into 2022? To be honest, we have deep concerns.
As a community, will we show the resolve to hold Sergeant Rittmanic’s assassins accountable? It is yet to be seen, but we do see some signs of the resolve that will be needed. Secure 1776 takes specific note of the resolve being shown by Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe. As Illinois no longer has a death penalty, State’s Attorney Rowe is asking federal prosecutors to charge and seek the death penalty for both Darius Sullivan and Xandria Harris. The federal government is not likely to step in. If that is the case, we will expect Mr. Rowe to seek justice in a Kankakee court.
We also acknowledge the efforts of Chicago Alderman Matt O’Shea. He is using his office to help coordinate support for Bradley Police Officer Tyler Bailey, as he recovers in an area hospital. His office is collecting donations for the Bailey Family through 14 January 2022. His offices are located at 10400 S. Western Avenue and 3207 W. 111th Street in Chicago. His office can also be reached at (773) 238-8766.
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