Keep first responders in your thoughts, prayers

It was 39 years ago; I was a lieutenant in the Buffalo Police Department Tactical Patrol Unit. About an hour into our shift, Officers Joseph Ransford and Thomas Fay received a call of a domestic incident on Jefferson Avenue. It involved the custody of a toddler. Knowing such calls can lead to violence, I covered it with them.

The father, armed with a court order, had his right for weekend custody. After several minutes, the mother relented. The father departed with the child, and we left, satisfied that things worked out.

About an hour later, I heard Fay calling for the Homicide Squad. As I walked up to him, he said, “Lieutenant, you’re not going to like this scene.” There was little 18-month-old Natasha Nunn, stabbed approximately 30 times, with a butcher knife still in her body.

Why am I writing this after 39 years? Because of my recurring dreams after seeing a child so brutalized. I called Ransford and told him about my dreams. He told me he still thinks about it as if it happened last week.

Police officers keep horrendous crimes buried in their hearts; they do not share with their families. It also brings to mind what the first responders in Newtown, Conn., must be suffering, along with the families of the murdered children. In all my life experience, I can’t imagine the scene confronted by those officers when they witnessed those little children murdered. They will need a lot of loving care for a long time, and even then I am not sure those heroes will fully recover.

If you are a person who believes in the power of prayer, please keep these heroes in your thoughts and prayers.

Thomas F. Higgins

Erie County sheriff, retired