When the Puyallup Police Department received the first call about a Tacoma police officer gunned down after investigating a domestic dispute at an East Side home the evening of Nov. 30, officers instantly responded.
“When the first call was made, several of our on-duty patrol officers went to help,” said Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter.
It was only the first action the officers made — and they weren’t the only ones. Throughout that fatal night, more officers were sent to assist with scene security.
Several Puyallup officers are members of Metro SWAT and the Incident Management Team, which also helped out at the scene. Capt. Scott Engle worked alongside Jeter in the command post, communicating back and forth with officers.
The Sumner Police Department was also quick to act the night of incident, sending three Metro SWAT team members.
It causes pause but it strengthens our resolve to serve our community. It’s a tragedy and a loss even if it wasn’t ours directly. But the way that the law enforcement community comes together when an officer dies in the line of duty is a powerful thing. The whole community rallies around law enforcement when something like this happens.
Bryan Jeter, chief for Puyallup Police Department
But even after the 12-hour standoff came to a close with the pronounced death of 38-year-old gunman Bruce Johnson II the morning of Dec. 1, the departments continued to offer help.
“We have some officers in our department that’s helped out with peer support in Tacoma,” Jeter said, adding that the department is currently coordinating shift coverage with Tacoma police that will “allow for officers to attend the service.”
The five Puyallup officers on Metro SWAT will be participating on the security team for Gutierrez’s service on Friday (Dec. 9) at the Tacoma Dome. Bonney Lake Police Chief Dana Powers says six of her officers and two SWAT officers will be working the funeral security detail, and one officer is helping plan the service.
Sumner Police Chief Brad Moericke offered any support that Tacoma needs and plans to help cover shifts, too. Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow requested flags to be lowered.
“Even if you didn’t know the officer, we’re law enforcement family,” Moericke said, adding that he’s thought about the difficult position of Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell. “I hope and pray all the time that I never have to be in his shoes and have to lose one of my officers.”
As a chief, Moericke said he’s looking forward.
It brings home that realization that even though it was in Tacoma it could have been one of our guys. It makes everyone stop and think.
Brad Moericke, chief of Sumner Police Department
“How can this be a lesson learned?” he said. “Can we learn as we go forward? There are a lot of things that can come of this.”
Jeter said the mood at the Puyallup department is “guarded” after hearing of the death of Tacoma officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez. But both Jeter and Moericke say there’s been incredible community support.
Locals have been bringing in candies, cookies and kind words.
“It brings home that realization that even though it was in Tacoma it could have been one of our guys,” Moericke said. “It makes everyone stop and think.”
“It causes pause but it strengthens our resolve to serve our community,” Jeter said. “It’s a tragedy and a loss even if it wasn’t ours directly. But the way that the law enforcement community comes together when an officer dies in the line of duty is a powerful thing. The whole community rallies around law enforcement when something like this happens.”