Colorado Springs residents woke up earlier this month to the difficult and upsetting news that a police officer had been shot, a victim of a targeted assault just east of the city’s downtown area.
Cem Duzel, a 5-year veteran of the force, remains hospitalized and in critical but stable condition. A native of Long Island, New York, the Turkish-American patrolman has been described by friends and colleagues as “quiet,” “kindhearted” – and “one tough cookie.”
Since news of the shooting, support and prayers for the wounded officer have been pouring in from all over the world.
“In addition to the United States, we’ve heard from people in Switzerland, Germany, England, Turkey, Japan and China,” Lieutenant Howard Black, Public Information Officer of the Colorado Springs Police Department, told Focus on the Family. “I can tell you that the family is incredibly appreciative for all the prayers,” he said.
The man accused of shooting Officer Duzel is an Iraqi refugee who’s had numerous run-ins with the police. In fact, after one of them, he was scheduled to be deported, but the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said the law cited in his case was too vague. He was ordered to be released back into society.
Officer Duzel’s parents are currently in Colorado Springs and maintaining a vigil at their son’s bedside. Whether he recovers – or when – remains unknown.
The man who shot him was wounded but was recently released from the hospital. He’s now in police custody – too many months too late, if you ask me.
The issue of immigration – both legal and illegal – is raging in the United States. To be sure, it can be a complicated subject. But at the risk of simplifying a multi-layered challenge, I think most of us would agree that a good first place to start is the enforcement of existing immigration laws.
Case in point: Officer Duzel’s alleged attacker, Karrar Noaman Al Khammasi, was granted refugee status in the United States in 2012. He had escaped from Iraq and came to this country from Turkey.
Refugees are required to obey our laws or be subject to deportation. Yet, since his arrival, Karrar Noaman Al Khammasi has faced criminal charges including trespassing, criminal extortion, assault, weapon offenses and even parole violations. As such, he was set to be deported in 2016. Yet, a federal court determined that the immigration law was too vaguely written and instead ordered him to be released into society.
Had the law been enforced and common sense applied, Officer Duzel wouldn’t be lying in critical condition in the hospital – and the person who shot him would no longer be in America.
Clearly, the immigration system is broken and in need of reform. Failure to act puts all of us, especially law enforcement in jeopardy.
On a related but separate note, I must say how fed up I am over people who either inadvertently or deliberately lump all immigrants together and not differentiate or distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. In this particular case, Karrar Noaman Al Khammasi was here legally, but forfeited his freedom and legal status when he broke the law.
Let’s be clear: with very minor exceptions, those of us advocating for enforcing existing laws and securing our borders are not opposed to legal immigration. We see immigration for what it is – a wonderful tradition that has strengthened and enriched the United States of America.
My heart breaks for the Duzel family and every family in law enforcement whose lives have been turned upside down by violence.
Our police deserve our respect – and desperately need our prayers.
With long hours, modest pay and little room for error, they are the heroes of our neighborhoods. In an instant they’re called upon to size up and sum up a dangerous scene. They bring calm to chaos. They’re warriors, peacemakers and negotiators. They need to be diplomatic and decisive. They need to be tough to a thug and tender to a toddler.
I remember one such police officer came into my room at midnight when I was just 5 years old. My father had been threatening to kill my mother. Hearing my dad rage outside my bedroom door, I had pulled the covers up to my chin. The patrolman walked up to my bed and leaned over in my direction. He looked to be about 8 feet tall. Placing his large hand gently on my chest, he said softly, “Are you okay, son?”
If only my own father had been so solicitous and kindhearted.
I sometimes wonder who that officer was and what ever came of him in the years to come. I’m sure he’s forgotten all about that night. To him, it was just another stop in a series of calls.
To me, it was the most frightening night of my young life. His reassuring presence was akin to a balm on a burn.
Please join me in praying for Officer Duzel. And let’s remember to pray for all law enforcement. May the Lord protect them as they strive to serve and protect us.