On Friday, February 15, 2008, Los Angeles buried one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Los Angeles Police SWAT Officer Randal D. Simmons gave the ultimate sacrifice. He was shot protecting another SWAT team member while making entry into a barricaded suspect situation. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13).
Officer Simmons was a man’s man. He had been on the Los Angeles Police SWAT team for almost 20 years. He was the elite of police officers. He was what most street officers long to be. But more importantly, Randy Simmons was a man after God’s heart.
Although Officer Simmons was known for his tactical excellence and his amazing physical conditioning, he was a humble servant. Officer Simmons was a sold out for God man. Instead of being arrogant and basking in his elite status and position, Officer Simmons took the time to give back to disadvantaged and underserved children. He made a positive difference in the lives of others.
Officer Simmons clearly recognized that the bible and the badge are not in conflict with each one another; rather they actually go hand in hand. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9). Officer Simmons proudly wore his badge and proudly carried his bible.
Officer Simmons had his priorities in the proper order; God, family and job. He loved his wife Lisa and their two beautiful children. His children knew who he was because he made time for them. Unlike many police marriages that fall apart due to the pressures of the job, Officer Simmons had an intact family filled with love. Randy understood that God ordained marriage as the first institution and he honored and provided for his family. With all of his other involvements, Randy spent time with his beloved family, quality time. They were not an after thought, they were his first thought.
He did not use the excuse that his job was too demanding. To be sure, police work can be extremely demanding, but when you put God first like Officer Simmons did, God will help you with your time management.
As I sat listening to every speaker at his home going celebration, the thought that kept running through my mind was, “This was truly a life well-lived and pleasing to God”. Each speaker spoke of how Officer Simmons had impacted their live in such a positive manner. From the Glory Kids that he loved so dearly, his college roommate, his college football teammates, a police partner, his sisters-in-law, to the Mayor who was visibly shaken, to Chief Bratton and Officer Simmons’s own son, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Officer Simmons was incredibly special. If you had the pleasure to meet him, you knew that you had been in the presence of greatness.
During my 26 year career as a deputy sheriff, unfortunately I have attended several police funerals. Many were for deputies from my own department as well as officers from other agencies also. However, Officer Simmons’s funeral was the largest in the history of the state of California. There were 10,000 of us seated in the Crenshaw Christian Center Faith Dome and that does not include all the persons outside. There were police officers, firefighters, children, community members and politicians. The procession to the cemetery was one and a half hours in length, that’s how many police motorcycles, police cars, fire engines and private vehicles came to escort Officer Randy Simmons to his final resting place.
Do you realize that there have been past presidents of the United States who did not have that number in attendance at their funerals? So what does that say about this elite police officer, but also this man of God?
People came from across the country and around the world to pay homage and respect to this man. I spoke to the Royal Mounties officer from Canada who said that he “had” to come and pay respect to a man of Officer Simmons’s caliber. Lieutenant Steve Hutchinson from the San Diego Police Department drove up to give honor to Officer Simmons. A retired Kansas State Trooper friend of mine called to pay his respect. Officer Roland remembered Randy from a SWAT training put on by LAPD for other agencies; he said that Officer Simmons was a tactical genius and a down to earth, very approachable guy.
The life that Officer Randal D. Simmons led should serve as a blueprint for other Christian officers. Randy was not ashamed to let his fellow officers know that he was a man of God, a man of deep faith. He led by example. Officer Simmons knew that promotions come not from man but from God.
So, for all of you religious officers who have been scared to share your faith or let your light shine on the job for fear of either being laughed at or missing out on a promotion or special assignment. . .follow Randy’s example. Step up and be counted. Share your faith with others. Do things for others. There is plenty to do. There are children who need encouragement. Young officers need to be mentored, you might save their career. Many police families are in distress.
Don’t say that you are just one person, Randy was one person but he made a difference in the lives of hundreds.
Like Randy, make yours a life well-lived. If you do, when it is your time to meet our Creator you will be welcomed like Randy with the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant, well done”.