Officer Antwan Toney- End of Watch
On October 20, 2018, Gwinnett County (GA) police officer Antwan Toney, badge number 1808, was killed in the line of duty. On October 24th, I attended his funeral.
I never met Officer Toney, but I knew him because I know many of the officers who serve our city and county.
He was the officer who came roaring behind me with blue lights flashing, when I pulled into my driveway and picked up my mail. He got out of his car, laughing and said, “I just had to do that.”
He was the officer who calls me sir, even after I told him to call me Dave.
He was the officer who discusses drones and drone technology with me.
He was the female officer who hugs me whenever we see each other.
He was the officer who says, “Let me know if I can do anything for you.”
He was the officer who “Likes” my posts on social media.
As a City Councilman, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to know many in law enforcement, not as police officers, but as people. Like the rest of us, when the work day is over, they like to laugh, and play, and spend time with family and friends. And having come to know them, it pains me deeply to see the law enforcement community shown disrespect with words. And with bullets.
Officer Toney was shot as he walked up to a car that had been reported as a suspicious vehicle. It was a routine encounter that proves once again that no law enforcement encounter is routine. The 18-year-old shooter, who subsequently refused to surrender peacefully, paid the ultimate price for his crime, underscoring his lack of regard for anyone’s life. Including his own.
Antwan Toney had never wanted to be anything but a police officer. His focus was always on serving the people in the community- helping them and keeping them safe. And he always did it with a smile. He was tough only when he had to be.
Police work is difficult under the best of circumstances. But that doesn’t stop a current dialogue, largely promulgated by people who support breaking the law “for the greater good.” It paints law enforcement as the enemy, and while it may bring warm and fuzzy feelings to the bleeding heart, politically correct crowd, in the real world, it makes the work of law enforcement even more difficult. And more deadly.
It is doubtful that the loser who murdered Officer Toney could have articulated the reason for his actions. But he heard the message that police officers are the enemy and he had no qualms taking the life of a man who only wanted to serve his community.
That community has come to realize that a new conversation is needed. One that talks about the difficult job of law enforcement and the need to respect, support and appreciate members of the public safety profession. The people who risk their lives every day to serve and protect.
Citizens in Gwinnett County turned out by the thousands to honor Officer Toney at his funeral and along the route from the church to the funeral home. His tragic death continues to serve as a reminder of the dangers of the job and the need to say, “Thank you” to the law enforcement officers who dedicate their lives to making our communities safer places to live.