This morning, many of us climbed out of bed, shook off the sleep while cursing the cold and initiated our usual routine: wake the kids, put on some coffee and get ready for work. Chances are good, none of us gave a serious thought to the perils unseen from the night before — the averted violence, crimes foiled, property protected.
That we are able to begin our day without worrying about the night is a testament to the selfless dedication and courage of our community law enforcement officers, whose nightly patrols often appear routine but are anything but.
The inherent risk of their patrols was brought home Tuesday morning with an exchange of gunfire following a routine traffic stop, leaving a Denton Police Department officer critically injured and two suspects jailed, one on a charge of attempted capital murder. The officer, a five-year veteran of the department named Urbano Rodriguez Jr., remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition after being shot in the head and the femur.
Rodriguez is fighting for his life, while a community rallies around him. His nightly watch was a dangerous job, but the response has shown it’s not a thankless one.
“Prayers for all police officers, prayers they go home to their families. Hope for a full recovery for this officer,” read one comment posted on Facebook. “Whatever we can do let’s do it to help this officer,” read another.
Add our well wishes and prayers to the chorus of others, as Rodriguez is a cherished, known member of our community. We recall his compassion from when he was an animal control officer in 2013 and built a doggy wheelchair for an injured dachshund named William. “Not only does William have a new perspective on life, but so do I,” he said then.
A number of community efforts have sprung up to assist Rodriguez and other members of the law enforcement community. We are a responsive community — when a neighbor, brother or even a stranger need help, we provide it.
The 100 Club of Denton, a nonprofit organization that supports local law enforcement, is accepting donations on Rodriguez’s behalf. To donate, visit denton100club.com.
As well, Backing the Blue Denton is holding a fundraiser on Nov. 6 at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, 3250 S. Interstate 35E. The restaurant will donate 20% of all food and soft beverage sales made between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. In addition, Eagle Gun Range is raffling off items, including a Ruger assault rifle and a one-year “Gold Membership,” with all ticket sales benefitting Rodriguez. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the Lewisville location, 491 W. Valley Ridge Blvd.; the Farmer’s Branch location, 14400 Midway Road; or over the phone at 972-353-4867.
An emotional Chief Frank Dixon, in speaking Tuesday to the media and others, said, “Police officers across the country are targeted like we’re a broken institution. That is wrong. We are not broken.”
We could not agree more.
We are a community that takes comfort in our small-town origins, where neighbors still can be found congregating on front porches and Sundays are incomplete without a stroll to the Square for ice cream. Yes, we are a blossoming community — in the midst of record growth, along with the accompanying growing pains — but we are a safe community, thanks to the courage, compassion and commitment of officers like Urbano Rodriguez.
It has been nearly three decades since another Denton officer was shot in the line of duty, further proof of the relative safety we sometimes take for granted. But though the probability of an incident like Tuesday’s remains unlikely, the possibility is always there.
So tonight, when the patrols begin anew, we pray for calm shifts but will sleep tight knowing the Officers Rodriguez of the world are keeping the watch. And for that, we are ever thankful.