FF & PO Arthur Lopez: To An Athlete Dying Young

In Nassau, It’s Body Armor Optional

Earlier I wrote about the killing of Officer Lopez during a traffic stop last week.  He was not wearing a vest, which seemed odd–it still does.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is quoted in Lawofficer as saying, “Nassau does not have a mandatory bullet-proof vest policy,  it’s up to each police officer.”

The literature is explicitly clear about the concerns surrounding young male risk-taking.  People like Arthur Lopez make superb police officers and  firefighters because of their propensity to seek out, and even enjoy, risk.

After his years of experience on the police force and as a firefighter, Lopez would have been familiar with high risk situations and would have matured through most unnecessary risky behavior.  In that regard, the only thing he needed to stay safe was a little help from the leadership. But, they failed him, totally.

Without question, Nassau County elected officials bear substantial responsibility for his death.  So too does Nassau County Police Chief Steven Skrynecki. And, the PBA/union is right there with them if, by either omission or commission, they sanctioned the policy.

It is especially shameful if the PBA/union is complicit because at the end of the day, if they accomplish nothing else, they must protect their members.

Arthur Lopez was an athlete.

To An Athlete Dying Young

THE time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

A. E. Housman


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