The brutal, cold-blooded ambush killing of 24-year-old, Maryland State Trooper, Wesley Brown has left those of us who work in the law enforcement and criminal justice arena cloaked with shock, sadness, and profound grief. The larger community also feels the pain.
Trooper Brown was working off-duty security at a local Applebee’s restaurant when a disorderly customer refused to pay his bill. Trooper Brown intervened and removed the customer from the establishment. The customer allegedly left the premises. Approximately 30 minutes later when Trooper Brown had finished his part-time shift and was leaving, the same individual allegedly returned and shot the officer-- striking him--with a deadly outcome.
Known for his congeniality and upbeat presence, Brown’s cousin described him as “funny, happy-go-lucky, always smiling.” He was selfless in his pursuits. Trooper Brown mentored young people and established a group, “Younger Men Enlightening Younger Men” in which he provided inspiration and constructive activities for troubled youths. He was a dedicated trooper who, according to the Assistant Commander of the Forestville substation, Rodney Morris, would have excelled during his growing career.
The horrific murder of this police officer, who openly displayed his badge and was wearing a jacket identifying him as such, is disconcerting because it points to the fact that not only is vested authority disrespected but, furthermore, no iota of conscience entered into the decision to shoot a cop. It was a cold, calculated, callous, and merciless act. The message that it sends is merely confirmation that anyone who works in law enforcement is vulnerable at any time and any place. It is a reality that can send chills down the spine of even the most seasoned veterans in the field.
Police officers put their lives on the line daily by their mere presence and role in the community. Though they are society’s protectors and walk out the door to take on unknown challenges and, oftentimes, in very risky and potentially lethal situations, they do so with fearless and steadfast conviction. Trooper Brown did just that.
The penetrating impact of Trooper Brown’s sudden and senseless death leaves a deep void in Prince George’s County and the D. C. region. The effects reverberate even throughout the nation. Every professional who works in the criminal justice system—whether sworn or civilian—is greatly impacted by Trooper Brown’s death. As a member of the cohesive criminal justice family, one did not have to be personally acquainted with him to understand the significance of his loss or the deep and everlasting pain that it brings.
Though life will go on, so, too, will the memory of Trooper Brown. Through his death, a piece of inspiration must be extracted to compel those who grieve to have a reason to take the next step forward. Trooper Brown—rest in peace.