SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The shooting deaths of law enforcement officers are up 50 percent compared to this time last year, including the eight that were ambushed in Dallas and Baton Rouge in July.
For one Bay Area officer, putting on the uniform every day helps him honor his slain colleagues, as well as a family member.
By 5:30 in the afternoon, exhausted South San Francisco police Sgt. Ken Chetcuti is throwing down coffee as he gathers his belongings from the Oakland airport baggage carousel – his uniform, and his sidearm – everything to represent South City at the funeral of Baton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson.
“It absolutely hurts. It especially hurts when one of the most difficult things we do in this profession is take the badges off our chest, and put the black band around them because another officer has fallen in the line of duty,” Chetcuti said.
South City may not be a metropolis but urban or suburban, the dangers remain the same.
“Some may think the bigger cities are more high-risk than local communities, but for me personally it’s been hard to view it that way when my uncle was taken from our family in the small town of Millbrae on a Saturday morning,” Chetcuti said.
Ken is the nephew of Millbrae police officer Dave Chetcuti, who was gunned down along Highway 101 in April of 1998 when Ken was in the academy. He tries to get to every police funeral to give back for all the support he got then.
“You know I can relate to the difficult times that they’re going through,” Chetcuti said. “It’s been 18 years now since my uncle was shot and killed in the line of duty. I can truly say it’s something you will never get over, and that you will just get used to it.
Before he was killed, Officer Jackson wrote, “I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me?” That’s a question that resonates with every officer.
“Never an easy job to do, and we remind ourselves why we do it,” Chetcuti said. “That’s truly what makes us get up in the morning and put our uniform on to go do it again today.”