CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found a Cleveland police officer now spending his career helping police families through pain after he lost a brother in the line of duty.
He spoke out as the community just said goodbye to another fallen officer.
“All I can do is, I can speak from experience. The situation never gets better, but you can get better. You can get stronger and you can learn how to work with the situation that was given to you,” Officer Chris Porter said.
In 2017, Porter lost his brother, Officer David Fahey. A hit-and-run driver killed him while he was working.
Porter even has a distant family connection to Cleveland Officer Shane Bartek, who was carjacked and murdered while off duty and just laid to rest on Tuesday.
Porter told us his own experience with grief taught him the need to help others.
“The most important thing that I had to learn for myself was that it was actually okay to ask for help and to get help,” he said.
On the day of an officer’s funeral, you see police supporters lining the streets, but you won’t find that every day.
So, an informal group of retired officers also has formed to be available by phone at any time for prayer or support at a moment’s notice.
Meanwhile, the mother of Cleveland Officer Robert Clark told us how the pain never goes away. More than 20 years ago, Clark was killed in the line of duty.
Now, decades later, his mother, Pat McLaughlin, said she still hears from officers who’d worked with her son. Some of them are still dealing with what happened.
“Underneath it all, they’re human,” McLaughlin said. “But they have to carry this with them. I know a lot of officers that worked with Rob still carry the pain.”
There’s no need to remind Porter.
“You’re going to face adversity constantly, especially a police officer in a big city.”
He knows, now, saying goodbye to Officer Bartek could take a very long time.
“Especially where I’m at, it does make me dig in harder and say that I have a purpose. I have a reason for being here,” he said.
Porter says the unit where he now works helps officers deal with anything that could affect them doing their jobs.