What I Never Told Detective John Hobbs

This has been percolating in my head and heart for a while, but sometimes you have to let things sit. This website is my professional face–it highlights my writing and efforts to assist veterans of all wars to find their way home–so I was hesitant to blur the line between personal and professional.

But it’s time.

Det John Hobbs

Det John Hobbs

Detective John Hobbs was a devoted peace officer, a caring father, and a loving husband–among other things. He was my cousin’s husband and father to their three great children. John spent his career in law enforcement with the Phoenix Police Department and was killed in a firefight on March 3rd, 2014.

I was at the park, playing with my two kids when my mother called me.

“Hey Ma, what’s up?” I asked, certain this was a social call to find out how her grandkids were doing.

“Not good. John was shot and killed today at work.”

My mom spent decades in a world where bad news doesn’t get better with time–as the wife of a career USN aviator, mother of two USMC helicopter pilots with five combat tours between them, and mother-in-law to a brave woman with more time in combat zones than any of them. She gets straight to the point.

I sat down in the lush grass while my kids shrieked on the swings.

“Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.”  Was all I could say.

“Yeah, Fuck is right.” Mom never cusses. She filled me in on the details as she knew them, then hung up to be available for her sister. She’d let me know the arrangements as they came available.

We all attended his funeral–an event that was remarkable in its ability to show community support for a fallen Officer while remaining respectful to the wishes of the family. The support shown by the Phoenix PD, hundreds of law enforcement and public safety agencies from around the country, as well as the citizens who lined the streets by the thousands when the funeral procession drove by–was overwhelming and strangely uplifting at the same time.

But this post isn’t just about John. It’s also about the thousands of professionals just like him who risk their lives on a daily basis. This is my opportunity to say something to them that I failed to say to John.

John was impressed, more than he should have been, by my military service. He loved hearing about flying the Cobra in combat, about my missions with MCSOCOM Det One, and about military life in general. I was open and honest with him but I could tell he was making them out to be more than I thought they were. He shared stories about his experiences on the force as well, but always made them out to be less than they likely were.

I thought about joining the law enforcement community when I first left active duty–and then again several years later. The training I’d gone through on active duty set me up well for any number of positions in law enforcement. But what kept me from doing it was fear, fear that, no matter how good I was, someday some lucky douchebag would get the drop on me and I’d get killed. I was fine with going into combat–that’s a relatively straightforward issue. I wasn’t fine with having to be a target at all times, constrained by the law and unable to maintain a safe perimeter around me while being in places that make downtown Baghdad seem quaint.

I have more respect for law enforcement personnel now than ever before. The job they do, using force of personality and calm confidence to defuse situations more aptly suited for stun grenades and batons, is not one I feel I could do. Just like there are military personnel who make mistakes in crisis situations, so do some police officers. But that doesn’t diminish the honor and integrity of the vast majority of peace officers, not in my eyes.

I never said it to John, but I can say it to any Officer who reads this post:

Thank you.



#LawEnforcementWeek, #BlueLivesMatter, #LawEnforcementAppreciation, #PoliceWeek, #NationalPoliceWeek, #NationalLawEnforcementWeek, #HonorForTheBrave

18 thoughts on “What I Never Told Detective John Hobbs

  1. Sammy Martinez

    Thanks for a great article…….John will not be forgotten….and thank you for your service

  2. Mary Gold

    Thanks for this post, Dan. I will forward it to Sam Distefano and his wife, Jody, with whom you shared a meal at our house in Nebraska. Sam never had to draw his weapon, always managed to talk people out of their agitation and misery. And later, after having done their time, one of his arrests might be seen with Sam, talking at a community gathering like old acquaintances. But in all the years we knew Sam and Jody, sharing good times and meals in Omaha restaurants, Sam never sat with his back to the door. Sam kept the peace for us at the expense of his own — like you, Dan.

  3. Ken Miller

    Beautiful words made more so because of their truth. John honored me with his friendship, and you honor him with these words. I was a pall bearer at his funeral, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him or Cathy and the kids. That some nobody could lay low so great a man is a sobering thought. He will be missed, never forgotten, and never replaced.

    1. sheehandb@gmail.com Post author

      I’ve been in your shoes–carrying a brother to his final resting place. You, your unit, and the entire Phoenix PD did it right that day. John was in good hands. Thank you, Ken.

  4. Steve Konegni

    thank you for your words, Marine. I was retired five years from PPD when John left us. Good memories of talking with John about our PPD helicopters, AR’s and the Marine Corps.

  5. Beau Jones

    Thanks for a great article. John was my FTO almost 16 years ago. I learned allot from him and I always remember how highly he spoke of his family and friends. He was a great cop and an even greater man!

    1. sheehandb@gmail.com Post author

      He sure was, Beau. And his legacy lives on through the lives he touched. Thanks for your comment and for your service.

  6. Steve Roser

    Dan – it doesn’t surprise me about John being so humble. He always had a way of making you feel like you were his focus. I miss his drive and smile. He is missed by all at PPD.

    1. sheehandb@gmail.com Post author

      I have no doubt the squad rooms are a more somber place without John there to liven them up. Thanks for your comment, Steve.

  7. Robin A Lopez

    What a beautiful article. John was a good man with a wonderful smile and engaging personality. As a LEO wife and MCSO mom, thank you for your words and for your service.

    1. sheehandb@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Robin, for your kind comments and for the sacrifices you and your family have made.


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