This past week was a very stressful and intense week for our communities. As a community, we learned of the tragic loss of Police Officer Tom Decker. Throughout the week, the community embraced the Decker family as they planned for his funeral and final resting place. Authorities continued their efforts to solve the case as we all continued to ask why such an incident could happen in our community.
Wednesday, the day of the funeral, was a focal point of the week. With thousands of law enforcement officials and emergency responders traveling to pay their respects to Officer Decker and his family, the community was witness to an incredible tribute to a fallen peace officer and a very solemn, historical moment for everyone.
On behalf of the ROCORI School District, I would like to take this time to express our collective sadness in this loss the Decker family and our entire community has experienced. The senseless loss of a positive young officer cannot be understood. Yet the display of support was overwhelming and awe-inspiring. Our sympathies are extended to the family in this tragic loss.
Although Officer Decker was not directly assigned to the school as a Resource Officer, his service and presence certainly affected the school district. He had been a partner of School Resource Officer Ruben Zayas and he was a positive example for all to follow. Officer Decker had an effect on all of us with his approach and desire to serve.
As early as students and staff learned of the tragedy, questions arose about how the school could appropriately pay respect to Officer Decker, the city police department, and the community. Even by the end of the day Friday, the idea was extended to act, as a school, to demonstrate support by somehow lining the street as a physical statement of encouragement.
A wonderful part about the idea of showing support was that it was expressed by both students and staff! Students were sharing their desire with teachers and teachers relayed the concept to building administrators. Even without knowing any details or plans, students and staff wanted to stand, in unity, to show support!
As final arrangements were made by family and officials for the funeral, the plan from students and staff came to fruition. The funeral procession would come through Cold Spring by County Road 2. The path of the procession would allow students and staff to line the highway as an expression of support.
After the service on Wednesday, the law enforcement and family procession left St. John’s and followed County Road 2 into Cold Spring. The local law enforcement and family units then traveled to Richmond. As the procession came through town, students and staff of the ROCORI District stood—attentive, positive, and silent as the vehicles rolled by.
REVERENT AND RESPECTFUL
I want to extend a note of appreciation to the entire ROCORI community about the positive and respectful manner in which students assembled for Officer Decker's funeral procession.
I was personally able to be part of the reception along County Highway 2 yesterday. I walked along the area where the secondary students started to assemble and continued north to the Cold Spring Elementary site. All along the route, I was very impressed with the respect, integrity and quiet reverence I observed and felt!
As soon as cars in the procession started to be visible, students were attentive and respectful. No one had to say a word to them; it was a natural and impressive process! It was an amazing and overwhelming sense of reverence, pride and support!
Our students can often be criticized by others, but the behavior and support demonstrated during the procession says something different about the young people in the ROCORI Schools! The funeral procession provided a special and incredible learning experience--rich in Civics lessons and issues of relationships! It was a moving and powerful experience for anyone who participated.
The experience meant a great deal to everyone involved. For students and staff, it was a tremendous opportunity to express support and encouragement to the family and our community.
We have heard from law enforcement agencies, that the visible display of lining the highway was something most had never witnessed before and was a powerful statement to them! Parents have expressed that the opportunity was very meaningful to their families.
This kind of behavior doesn’t just “happen.” The behavior is reflective of the quality of people and life in our community. It is the collective experience and influence of parents, friends, students, teachers, neighbors, clergy, and all parts of our community.
On behalf of the ROCORI School District and our communities, I want to express sincere and deep sympathy to the Decker family for their loss and appreciation for Officer Decker’s service.
To our community, I want to express a note of thanks for your support of our students and children—support that is evident in so many ways! Parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, business and community leaders, fellow employees, peers and colleagues all have had an influence on the behaviors observed this past week!
As a district, we could not be more proud of what was demonstrated and observed during the tragic and stressful times of the past week. It is a tremendous privilege to serve with you!