Widow of slain Miami-Dade cop speaks out on cop shootings

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The recent shootings of police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas have brought back painful memories for one widow in South Florida.

Debbie Geary’s husband David Strzalkowski was shot and killed while serving as a Miami-Dade cop in the late 1980s. Debbie and her husband had a 2-year-old son at the time, and she was pregnant.

“I can relate to what they are going through,” Geary said. “The sleepless nights, the telling the children Daddy is never coming home.”

Geary is part of an organization for the families of police officers who were killed, Concerns of Police Survivors. “The people now impacted are all part of our organization — Concerns of Police Survivors,” she said. “They never wanted to be part of our group. Neither did I, but we are.”

Four of Debbie’s children all went on to become Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies.

“I say the hardest thing for me was to tell my son that Daddy is never coming home,” Geary said. “But to tell him again, and to tell him again because at the age of 2 and half, they are only in the here and now.”

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said he told his officers to be on heightened lookout for danger and vary their routines.

“I tell them to expect the unexpected. Go to work different ways,” Israel said. “Approach calls different ways. If that alarm call goes off and you always come in from the southwest corner, come in from the northeast corner.”

Departments around the country are changing the way they operate, doubling up on foot patrols and eating in pairs. Miami-Dade Police Union President John Rivera said he fears more violence targeted at police.

“Quite honestly, I don’t think we have seen the last of it either,” Rivera said. “I think you are going to see more copycat situations.”

While police prepare for the worst, Geary said that the families of slain cops can never forget. “You don’t ever stop remembering,” she said. “You don’t ever forget. You still live with it day by day.”

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