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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rest in Peace - Senior Trooper Michael Dooley Badge No. 1560

This is a hard post to write, but I must.  I returned from a cruise to the Caribbean to learn that my colleague, Trooper Michael Dooley, had died while I was gone.

Senior Trooper Dooley was one of the original troopers in my unit, the Sex Offender Investigative Unit, of a mid-Atlantic state police agency which I will not name.  Mike was a leader among us. He was well over 6 feet with a booming voice and a large demeanor,if you know what I mean.

I am told that he had more felony arrests than any trooper in the unit in 2014.  He took his job of protecting public safety seriously.  However, as one trooper related, he could go after an offender, yell at him, set him straight, and the offender would thank him afterwards.

The last time I saw him in uniform, he came into the office in the late afternoon and asked me where our Sgt. was.  This was odd because our Sgt. works earlier hours.  I looked at him, leaning on the door jamb.  I noticed that his normally ruddy Irish complexion was ashen.  When I asked him what was wrong he said, "I have a terrible headache."  He was diagnosed with a particularly vicious cancer shortly afterwards.

Police agencies are like families.  Mike's police family rallied around him from dispatchers to compliance officers to admin personnel to troopers to supervisors. I am proud that the professionals I work with went over many times to pray with him, meet his family's needs, begin work on a deck, take his two youngest children to the movies, do fundraisers, clean the house, fix the air conditioning, and to mourn with them at his passing.

It has been painful for his work family to experience his change from a unit leader to someone helped on and off the commode by his fellow troopers and his Sgt.   I am proud that my co-workers were willing to help him even in that most basic of functions.  He was barely recognizable from the way we used to know him.  Yet even in that helplessness, he had the power to affect all of us in both the way he lived and, more importantly, in the way he faced death.

My friend, Tony Jones, related in his moving eulogy that he first met Mike when Tony came to the unit from another part of the state.  I'll try to paraphrase what Tony said.

"I had met with the then Sgt. and was so discouraged that I thought I had made a bad decision to come down to the area.  I left and saw Mike Dooley filling his car with gas out back.  We introduced ourselves and I related my discouragement."

"Mike said, 'Oh, don't worry about him.  He just has his head in the clouds'  Only if you knew Mike, he didn't say in the clouds.  He said something else that I can't sat in church.  Mike told me to jump in his car.  He took me to Norfolk and showed me how to do the job while I rode with him for a few days"

All of us laughed and Tony went on, "I've prayed with Mike and I know where he is.  I am so thankful that he has gone on before because I know that when I get to heaven, Mike will be there to show me the ropes again."

Mike Dooley went home to God on his birthday. When you think about law enforcement officers, please think about this brave, hardworking, honest, and dedicated trooper who worked extremely hard and carried out his duties with integrity and professionalism.  I can still hear his voice on the radio in my mind, "This is 1560..."

Professionalism, dedication to duty, and the desire to help others is the norm for law enforcement officers. This is why it is big news when an LEO is video'd looking less than professional. The media doesn't run news stories about LEO's like Senior Trooper Mike Dooley, a consummate professional who did his duty to his utmost every day, because it doesn't inflame the public and raise their ratings.  Maybe they should.

In Memory of Senior Trooper Michael Patrick Dooley
10/21/57 - 10/21/2015