" Think About it..."
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True Police Stories
"Courage is the ability to move;
when all around you are frozen in fear
My Name is Cathie Buckmister
People often say that they canít imagine losing a child.
Surely, it would be one of the most severe tests one would ever have to face in this life. I said it myself many times, and would shudder at the thought. Little did I know, that not only would it happen to our family, but also it would become the one thing that would bring us closer to the Lord than anything ever could. I raised five beautiful children. Brett was our second child, and oldest son. When he was five, we were in the grocery store, and he was playing with the birdseed. He looked up at me and said, "Mommy, whatís this?" I told him it was birdseed. His reply was, "Oh, if you plant it, will birds grow up?"
His smile was infectious, and he was pure joy to be around. As he got older, he was a lot like most kids, into his fair share of trouble. But once he got into high school, he decided that nothing was worth losing eternal life over, nothing. Not that Brett was ever guilty of any serious mistakes. Quite the contrary, he was very obedient. Just a little trial here and there, ones I look back on now with a smile and a sigh.
The one thing that was always a part of Brettís
He was a rock in his Quorums, a leader among his friends. He was gifted, in many things. His love of Basketball was a big part of his life. He played for Mesa High, but not without struggles. He was cut his sophomore and his junior year. He gave it one last shot and played his senior year. As he prepared for his mission, he became what every Mother wants her son to be. I would find him quietly reading his scriptures, keeping his room clean, and dutifully helping me out with chores.
He was always happy!
He served an honorable mission to the Philippines Naga Mission. He loved serving the Philipino people, loved their language, and loved sharing the gospel. He had tremendous testimony building experiences there, which solidified his faith in the Savior. He came home a refined young man.
His life had just begun, and with a renewed desire to find his sweet companion, he began the quest. He had quite a time with different jobs, and different dates, to find the right fit in both areas. He wasnít happy with the way his career was going, and told me he was thinking of getting on the Mesa Police Department. I was his Mother, right? So I told him no way was he going to do that. So he listened to me, and went on with his boring job. Then his sweet Rosanna came into his life. My husband and I were serving in the Young Adults in our ward, and were at a Fireside. Brett was the Stake Young Adult Representative for our Ward at the time. We were standing in the hallway after the fireside this particular night, when I met Rosanna. As I stood there talking to her, I decided to introduce her to Brett. The rest they say is history. They were married three months later, and had their first son Caleb nine months later and Brayden their second son soon after that. It was then that Brett decided to get on the Police Department. Rosannaís father was the Chief of police at the State Capitol, and her two brothers were DPS Officers at the time. So, no longer did he need or ask for my permission! He was hired right away, and he began his career in Law Enforcement, in February 1999.
Whenever Brett had a decision to make about anything,
He knew it was the right thing for him to do. We all felt good about his decision, and supported him 100%. There is nothing to compare to the day when he graduated from the Academy, and the pride he felt as his Father pinned his badge on him.
He was assigned to Page, and we were so grateful, because nothing much happens up there. He and his family enjoyed the beauty of the area, the quiet and solitude of Lake Powell. When Brett was in his cruiser, he would always have his scriptures along. When he had construction duty or down time he would read them. He loved Page and being in law enforcement and often remarked, "they pay me to do this?"
He spent every moment with his wife and 2 sons that he could. When he was home with them, it was family time. They didnít have much to watch on T.V. so when the antenna quit working, they left the T.V. off, and did things as a family. They would go to the Lake and skip rocks, or fly kites or just horse around on the floor with his kids. He made the very most of the time he had with them.
About six weeks before his death, he called me one Sunday. He told me that he had given a lesson in Priesthood that day about Mothers. He said he had born his testimony about me, and our relationship. He told me how grateful he was for me, and all I had done for him through the years. He told me how much he loved me. As I sat there talking to him, I canít describe how I felt that day. More special than ever.
Two weeks before his death, he had vacation time, and came down to Mesa to visit and to take his family to Disneyland. When he came over to our house, he was able to spend alone time with each one of us in our family. We had so much fun. The night before they left for Page, they stood at our door with the boys sleepy and ready to go. But after a few more laughs, decided to stay and talk a little longer. We talked and laughed about old times, things they did as kids and stayed until the wee hours. It was so special.
We hugged and kissed good-bye,
About a week later he called and told us how the weather had changed, and a freak snowstorm came up out of nowhere. He was excited about his first felony warrant arrest he had, and again, we said, "I love you" and good-bye.
It was March 21, 2000 a cold and snowy Tuesday morning. Brett was exercising with his family, doing leg lunges with his boys on his back. He was to report to work at 10 a.m. A call came that he needed to respond to a rollover accident on Highway 89. He quickly dressed, and ran out the door. His wife called out to him, "Do you have everything?" To which he responded, yes! The road was icy, there was fog, and Brett collided with an oncoming vehicle. He tried in vain to avoid the accident, but to no avail. He was killed, along with 4 other people in the other car.
Brett did have everything when he left that day.
His testimony was firm and unwavering. His faith was founded in the Savior and his plan for us. He left a legacy of love, faith and devotion. His example is what I look to now. I am so proud of him, as is his entire family. His younger brother and best friend, Aaron followed in his footsteps, and is also a DPS Officer.
Through the grieving process, I have learned many things.
The Lord saw fit to bless us in so many ways. It is as if he lifted us up that Tuesday morning, and carried us through the whole experience, and hasnít set us down yet. Many people asked me about our faith, and if we were angry with God for taking Brett. My only reply could be, "No, I love him more than ever." When you go through something like that, it really does test your love and faith in the Lord. But our family chose to look at the loss of our beloved son, with an eternal perspective. It made all the difference.
Brettís funeral was the most spiritual experience I have ever had. One month before Brettís passing, Skip Fink was killed on US 60. DPS was still mourning his death, and had just gone through the logistics of his funeral, where to have it and so on. They knew Brettís funeral would be large, and wanted us to have it at a different location, somewhere other than our Stake Center. Even the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Chandler was mentioned. But the Spirit led our decision, and his funeral was held at our Stake Building. There were over 2,000 people in attendance. Governor Jane D. Hull spoke, along with Col. Garrett of DPS. Two of Brettís friends on his squadron spoke and shared their love for Brett. Many non-members were in attendance, officers came from all over, even out of state. The Arizona Mormon Choir sang, and Brettís Priest Quorum Advisor Brian McCleary spoke, his former Bishop, Michael Fleming, and his sister Charlon. The Spirit was so strong. When Bishop Fleming spoke, he quoted from his own journal of the day he had Brett in his office to interview him before he left on his mission. He had asked Brett to bear his testimony to him, and he had written it down in his journal. Bishop Fleming then shared it word for word with the congregation. The gospel was taught, and many experiences of Brettís were spoken of straight out of his missionary journals.
The Plan of Salvation was explained,
Many people came to me later, and told me how their life had changed just from attending Brettís funeral. And many more told me how they wished they could have known him. Once you become a part of the Law Enforcement family, you never leave. I still wanted to feel a part of it, and to give back something to all of those who were so good to us from DPS. So, I got involved. I asked when I could start to help, and how.
Sgt. Jim Warriner was Rosanna's escort during the funeral, and helped us with all of the arrangements. He was like our guardian angel at the time. He got me involved in Peer Support, and AZCOPS. Our family attended the ceremonies in Washington D.C. for Police Week, and from that alone I knew I had to help other families get back there and experience that. I became the Secretary of the Arizona Chapter of COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors). For the past two years I have been speaking to each of the graduating classes for DPS at their Family Education Day. I tell them about being a Mother of an officer, and I tell them about Brett.
I know that the Lord in all of His wisdom
I know that He has more faith in us than we have in ourselves.
From Mother to Son ...on Mother's day ...May, 2000
My Beloved Son, Brett
How do I start this, a poem for you?
Your blue eyes they sparkled, your hair in curls.
You ran and you played the games of the day.
As you grew into manhood at the ripe age of twelve,
Those Junior High years gave me a fright.
Soon you were preparing for a mission and more.
And then the call came, on a November afternoon,
You began to prepare for a mission abroad,
With faith in your Father, you boarded the plane.
You came home to a family who missed you so much.
You taught and you served, you cried and you prayed.
Your Philippine mission was just a start.
But you were looking, with Heaven's power.
Her name was Rosanna, just like the flower.
First Caleb, then Brayden, two sons sent from heaven.
Then came the career, the job you would love.
We couldn't have been more proud that day.
The people of Page grew to love you.
And then the call came, someone needed help.
A good bye to your family, "I'll see you soon,"
And now you are living with Father again.
If you are or were a police officer,
or use the link on the front page of this site at
Thank you and God bless,
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