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Former sheriff reflects on recent deputy deaths

John Cooke recognized pain in local departments
Posted at 8:11 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 22:11:00-05

DENVER -- Before State Sen. John Cooke walked the halls of the state Capitol, he was the sheriff of Weld County. Having spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, he knows the hurt his brothers and sisters in blue are experiencing, after the recent deaths of three Colorado deputies.

“It feels like you're losing a brother or a sister.  It really affects you.  What goes through your mind is, there but for the grace of God go I," said Cooke. 

He was on the job when one of his deputies, Sam Brownlee was shot and killed in 2010.

"I knew Sam very well.  Sam was a guy that would walk by my door, my door was open 99% of the time.  And Sam would say hey Sheriff, how you doing, can I get you anything, do you need anything,” he said.

Cooke will tell you, when something like this happens, no one is immune from the grief.  But as Sheriff you set the tone for the department.

"I can't tell you the number of times I shut my door, I shed a tear for Sam and his family.  But you have to be strong for your employees, because if you don't, they know it.  And they recognize it."

So what do you say to the men and women who often put their lives before ours?

How do you work knowing so much bad has happened in a very short time?

"I'm not sure there's any words that can describe , other than to say, hey, you're professionals and not that you expect this, but it can happen and you just have to use every officer safety protocol, use your training and use your gut instinct to protect yourself and to go home to your family at night."