Officer Kozminski, RIP

In the early morning hours of July 8, Robert Kozminski, a 28-year-old police officer for the City of Grand Rapids, was killed from a shotgun blast to the head.  (Story, Grand Rapids Press).

I knew the man, vaguely.  His older brother, Andy, was in my class through the 8th grade, and his father was the coach of my junior-high basketball team.  Bobby was one year behind us at St. Anthony School, but except for occasional smiles at church, I lost track of the Kozminski family when they went to Kenowa Hills for high school and I moved on to West Catholic.

The funeral was held at our parish church, St. Anthony of Padua.  I was humbled to be asked to participate, as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for the funeral Mass. 

Officer Kozminski’s viewing was held in the nave of the church, for the three days prior to the funeral.  The sanctuary was filled with flowers, and GRPD officers in dress uniforms were a fixture at the church for a week. 

The funeral itself was a spectacle.  The formal honor guard escorting the casket and the family; the 75-minute “salute” of the visiting officers; the heartfelt words from a fellow officer, the mayor, and the chief of police; the presence of VIPs including the Grand Rapids city commission, at least one state senator, and Dick DeVos; the funeral Mass with three priests and two deacons, celebrated in the presence of the bishop — all of these things contributed to an air of solemnity that was marked, more than anything, by appropriateness.

It’s easy to take a tragic event like the shooting of a police officer and turn it into a sappy melodrama filled with crude hyperbole and staged emotion.  This funeral was different; it was solemn and dignified — spectacle, in the most honorable sense of the term.

My heartfelt prayers go out for Officer Kozminski, his family, and his colleagues in law enforcement.  He was a good man, taken too soon.  May he rest in peace.

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