ROCKFORD - For Police Chaplain Gary Cortese, the loss of a police officer is personal.
"This is probably the worst thing that could ever happen to a community. It's just like losing a member of your own family," he said.
Cortese become emotional after learning that a 30 year-old Rockford Police Officer was killed in the line of duty. Jaimie Cox was killed during a traffic stop, mortally injured as the suspect attempted to flee. News of his death now taking a heavy toll on the community and his fellow officers. That's why police chaplains across the Stateline are now comforting those who are grieving, trying to make sense of this sudden loss.
"Surround any officer you can find with love and prayers and let them know we appreciate you and are praying for you."
Cortese is the police and fire chaplain in Byron and sadly, he's no stranger to these situations.
"I take it personal. It bothers me, its bothered me from the moment I heard about it. So I do have to vent myself and unfortunately we all just have to process it and ride the storm out."
But now he's offering his services to any Rockford Police Officer struggling to come to grips with what happened. He wants first responders to know he's only a phone call away.
"We are offering confidential counseling, or just a word of prayer, or be that sounding board."
While the community grieves, Ofc. Cox's family finalize plans to lay their fallen hero to rest. Cortese says after that is when the reality begins to settle in.
"I recommend that they talk about it, you can't hold these things in, you have to talk about it, so I do recommend they connect with their family of faith and speak to one another about it."
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