Sunday, August 24, 2014

30 Years Later: Saluting a fallen hero and his amazing legacy

Sergeant Christopher Eney
Thirty years ago, on August 24, 1984, Sergeant Christopher Eney was taking part in a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training exercise when he was accidentally shot and killed by his partner. He was the first line of duty fatality for the US Capitol Police. He was 37 years old and had served with the department for more than 12 years.

In 2009, on the 25th Anniversary of his death, a wreath laying ceremony was conducted at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, where his name is carved on the First Panel on the eighth line on the Western Wall. 

Sergeant Eney’s wife is also honored on the wall. Vivian Eney Cross was not a police officer but a survivor, and used her experiences to assist her in serving as an advocate for police survivors. When the Memorial opened on October 15, 1991, Sergeant Eney’s name was unveiled and Ms. Eney Cross  was honored with a quote engraved underneath the lion located in the Northwest corner of the Memorial, “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.”
The lion located in the Northwest corner of the Memorial
This quote could easily apply to how Chris Eney lived his life. Sergeant Eney served as a medic in the US Army with the Green Berets. He then served with the House Plainclothes Division of the US Capitol Police and the CERT team in Washington DC. He advanced to the position of supervisor and quickly garnered a reputation of being one the best supervisors on the department. Jack DeWolfe, a co-worker of Sergeant Eney’s at the USCP, described Chris was always working tirelessly and “always striv[ing] to get the best out of his team members each day.” He acted as a role model for his superiors and never asked anyone to do something that he wouldn’t do himself.  

USCP Blue Badge Medal
Despite the tragedy of his untimely death, Sergeant Eney’s concern for others and his love of life was carried on by his family. During his funeral, his widow and two daughters were more concerned about his co-workers, which was extremely surprising the co-workers since they were expecting to comfort the family, rather than to be comforted themselves. 

Sergeant Eney was posthumously honored with the USCP Blue Badge Medal in recognition of his courage, dedication, and sacrifice. In addition, the Chamber Training Venue within the Capitol Police’s Practical Applications Center in Cheltenham, MD was named after Sergeant Eney following the 25th anniversary of his death.

As we remember 30th anniversary of Sergeant Eney’s death, it is more important than ever to acknowledge the service and sacrifice that he and all other fallen officers have made. Sergeant Eney’s spirit is carried on today in Vivian Eney Cross’s work as an advocate, and in the memories of his friends and coworkers.

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