Son of a Cop on the Alexandria Police Shooting: ‘Officer' Laboy Is Also ‘Dad’

A Virginia editor asks people to realize that Peter Laboy is more than a cop.

When I was about 7 years old or so, I remember, a Cleveland police officer was shot in the line of duty and killed. Even at that age, I knew enough to feel lucky: My dad was a Cleveland cop, and he wasn't the one who lost his life.

In those days, I had a before-school ritual that would last months at a time. Whenever my dad was working the 3-to-11 shift, I'd wake up, clamber down the stairs and peek into my father's bedroom to make sure he was there, that he was alive.

See, he would leave for work before I got home from school, and I'd be in bed by the time he returned. And after that poor soul behind the shield lost his life, I had learned young that sometimes cops don't come home, that sometimes random cops aren't in bed when their kids go off to school. So, I’d check.

I wrote the words above just more than a year ago, before I moved to Virginia, when officers in Iowa were being criticized for pulling their guns on a doctor who was speeding to a hospital and who failed to stop when police cars with their flashers on were chasing her.

I thought then, and I still do, that the criticism was ridiculous. Those officers had no idea who was in that car. They had no idea what to expect when it finally stopped. And among the duties of any good cop is to do all he or she can to make it home safe, to be fathers and mothers. They work one of those rare jobs in which, even when doing everything right, things can go very, very wrong.

I was reminded of those criticized officers, and of my childhood ritual of checking on my dad, after Alexandria Officer Peter Laboy was shot in the head Wednesday when he stopped a van in Old Town. He's in critical condition, not home. When I looked at his Facebook page and saw the picture of him smiling with five kids —my dad had five kids — I cringed.

And I was reminded of this: Some people will never know what it's like to be a cop. Some people will never know that a “routine” traffic stop is never truly routine. Some people will never know what it’s like to hold a job with low pay, high stress, lots of hours, little thanks and too much unfair criticism.

I’ll never even know those things. My dad was the cop, not me. But I do know what it’s like to be the 7-year-old son of a police officer, know what it’s like to be a kid who realized, and has never forgotten, that cops are dads, too. And moms. And brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.

That's my dad, Tom Richissin, pictured with this story. He died young, but naturally. He lived as a cop and died as a cop, but he lived as a dad, too, and he died as a dad.

That’s what I hope people will realize today, that Peter Laboy is more than a cop. That's why I hope, if you're inclined to say a prayer for Peter Laboy, that you don't just pray for him as an officer. Pray for him as a dad.

And that's why I hope you pray for his kids, too, those little ones who can't peek into his bedroom to see him today.

Todd Richissin is Patch's senior regional editor for Virginia and DC.


NoBS February 28, 2013 at 05:38 PM
I'm also a cop's kid. How can we help the Laboy family? Meals? Babysitting? Driving the kids?
Todd Richissin (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Gail: Patch is looking into setting up a fund to help out the family. We'll hopefully have some information soon. In the meantime, if anybody knows how to help, I'm sure a lot of people would like to pitch in.
CT February 28, 2013 at 07:44 PM
I've read that the city of Alexandria Police Department is accepting donations for the Laboy family at their Wheeler address.
Todd Richissin (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Yes. Thank you, CT. Was just going to post a link here with details. Here it is: http://oldtownalexandria.patch.com/articles/donation-information-for-officer-laboy
Todd Richissin (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Here's a link on how to help: http://oldtownalexandria.patch.com/articles/donation-information-for-officer-laboy.
jitterbug February 28, 2013 at 08:01 PM
This is the 3rd place I've seen this ridiculous "cut and pasted" post. You need to stop trying to turn this terrible event into a pulpit for your own personal agenda. This is about Peter Laboy, a man I know to be a good man, his son was in my own kid's cub den, and you need to go complain elsewhere, like here: http://request.alexandriava.gov/CCC/#tab=Categories&service=APD_TAXICOMPL It never ceases to amaze me how selfish people can take other people's tragedies and try to make it about themselves and their own insignificant complaints. Folks, Peter and his family need our support. Let's not turn it into something else. Thanks to Todd R for providing a link to a way to support them. Please provide prayer too if you are so inclined.
NoBS March 01, 2013 at 01:59 AM
I went to the Walker Street facility. You can drop a check at the front desk.
DRM March 01, 2013 at 02:08 AM
As the wife of an APD officer, thank you!
Todd Richissin (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 02:17 AM
Thanks, Gail, for the info. And thanks, DRM, for your family's service.
JAE March 01, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Mr. Richissin, thank you, sir, for writing this great article. As a police officer myself, a brother, a husband and a godfather, I certainly appreciate it. I very much hope that many read this article and realize that...well, we are human too! Thanks again.
Todd Richissin (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Thanks, JAE. I hope the thoughts did you and other officers justice. Todd
JBart March 01, 2013 at 02:00 PM
As the wife of a Motor Officer, I thought, my biggest nightmare used to be the terrible drivers in the Metro area. ;) This has brought a whole new set of fears to the forefront. It has gotten harder for these men and women to do their jobs, and come home safely to their families nightly. It takes something so tragic, for people to realize what an asset, oh and human being, these guys/ladies actually are...hopefully they will remember it NEXT WEEK too.
Marie March 01, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Beautiful article! I hope people will start to "get it".
JTC March 01, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Thank you for this column, Todd. It brought some tears of recognition. As the daughter of a police officer who served for 31 years, I had the same fear growing up. May Officer Laboy soon be home with his family!
Todd Richissin (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 03:36 PM
JBart: Love the NEXT WEEK reminder. Too often we fail to appreciate good people until bad things happen.
Todd Richissin (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Thanks, Marie and JTC. Let's hope for good news down the road.
Kristin March 01, 2013 at 03:44 PM
I am also a wife of a APD police officer and have spent the past two days thinking and praying about the Laboy family. This article definitely hit my heart, thank you for sharing.
JMS March 01, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Beautiful article!! Thank you for writing such a touching piece and making people remember that us Officers are more than just Officers.
lawgal March 01, 2013 at 05:32 PM
An excellent column and reminder to Alexandria about the true impact of the crime. The job of the police here can be very difficult: angry commuters, cultural clashes, the inability of some to behave properly toward women, political bickering, resentment directed at the "suits" or people who live in the gated communities (I've heard it myself!), and a tourist and shopping area that can be targeted by those intent on theft, robbery, etc. It's understandable that their families worry. Hopefully Officer Laboy will recover, but it may be a long, difficult road ahead for him and his family. Thank you for posting information about where the public may make donations.
mary katherine moore March 01, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Beautiful article! As the daughter of a police officer and the sister of a motor officer killed in the line of duty I have lived your words. People too often forget that police officers are human and that they have regular lives after they remove their badge. I find it takes a very special type of person to wear that badge and I for one couldn't be more proud of my father and brother for wearing it. Thank you for posting the information about Officer Laboy. We pray for a speedy recovery for you Motorman Laboy.
Jay Z March 01, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Great article Mr. Richissin! Praying for a speedy recovery. Cops and teachers are not paid enough!
Sage March 01, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Thank you so much for writing this. As an officer, a wife and a mother, this really hits home. I hope it will help people understand just a bit more what we face every day and perhaps just offer us a bit of understanding.
LoveOldTown March 02, 2013 at 01:50 AM
What a beautiful article. My child was one of the kids nearby in the playground when this happened. My heart immediately went out to Officer Laboy and his family when I heard the news. With men and women like Officer Laboy, Alexandria is a better place to live and enjoy. We owe these men and women a great deal of gratitude for what they do and risk in a days work.
Apd March 02, 2013 at 04:07 AM
As an Alexandria Police Officer I want to thank you Mr. Richissin. Your article has been circulating around the department and everyone is so appreciative you would take time to write it. Thanks everyone for the support for Officer Laboy.
Todd Richissin (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Thanks, Kristin, JMS, Lawgal, Mary Katherine, Jay Z, Sky, LoveOldTown and Apd. For taking the time to comment and for your service.
Kweenb March 02, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Here's some info for you all.."Please join the APA and membership on Sunday March 10th from 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. at the Virtue Feed & Grain, located at 106 South Union Street. The fundraiser includes a raffle and silent auction, a minimum $10 donation will be collected at the door, food is included." They are also looking for volunteers.
Kweenb March 02, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Paypal acct: https://bl2prd0411.outlook.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=y8iwQjrd-EqKHSkEz53wFWsMgdDp6s8Ij335UVPxv4wjNoIbmDw7vGjuBoCPmpCIj-nJfo8XF0w.&URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.paypal.com%2fcgi-bin%2fwebscr%3fcmd%3d_s-xclick%26hosted_button_id%3d76BUW2G83H7SY
Hassan Aden March 03, 2013 at 12:31 PM
I recently retired from APD after 25 years and serve as Chief of Police in Greenville NC-reading your article reminded me of what an incredible community Alexandria is. The caring, loving, giving spirit in this City is second to none. Please keep up the support for Peter and his family-his recovery will be long and difficult. The APD will need you as well-tragic events such as this one shake even the strongest of organizations.
Martha Clancy March 04, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Thank you for this heartfelt and beautiful article. My Dad was also a Police Officer - he died when I was 7 - more than 60 years go. I still ache for him each day. May Officer Laboy and his family heal quickly . All of us should be grateful to them and their colleagues for our safety each and every day. It is their sacrifices - and those of our military - and that includes the families - which allow us to live in freedom. Let us stop to honor and respect them all - not just today, but every day. Please take a moment to say "Thank You". The next time you see a Cop or a Soldier. They show their love and dedication to us every single day.


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