Videos & Speeches

We all know it has been a difficult and tragic couple of days for America. We were so deeply saddened to hear the news from Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday. As a parent, nothing in life is more important than the protection of our children. The death of a child-there is no recovery from. My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones in this unspeakable tragedy. Last night we learned of the death of our colleague Senator Inouye.

I want to mention today that just this past Sunday, over the weekend, grief struck the capital city of Kansas, my home State. Corporal David Gogian and Officer Jeff Atherly were fatally shot Sunday in Topeka while on duty. These public servants were investigating drug activity that was allegedly occurring inside a vehicle outside a neighborhood grocery store. As they approached the vehicle and ordered the occupants to get out, a gunman took the lives of both officers. When we lose someone in a community in Kansas, it is not just a name to us, it is somebody we see at our kids' activities at school, somebody we go to church with, somebody we know and care about. These two individuals are that to their friends and family in Topeka and across our State.

David had been part of the Topeka Police Department for 21 years. He spent 13 years as a reserve officer and eight years as a full-time officer. His service did not begin as a police officer; he had previously served his country in the Kansas National Guard and had just recently retired. Police Chief Ronald Miller described David as someone who spent his life in service to his country and to the city of Topeka. David's service to his community was clearly a model to others, including his son Brandon, who followed his dad's footsteps and serves the Topeka community as a police officer himself.

The second officer, Jeff, was just 29 years old and had joined the police department just last year. Chief Miller said that Jeff was just getting started in his career, and he had his entire life ahead of him.

Jeff grew up in the small community of Carbondale, which is just south of Topeka, and graduated from Washington University in 2009 with a degree in law enforcement. After graduation, Jeff-like his parents Steve and Susan, who are both educators-decided to dedicate his life to public service.  Jeff was known by his friends for his smile, his great sense of humor, and his kind heart. He leaves behind a 3-year-old son Logan.

These two men honorably served their community by faithfully carrying out the duties of a law enforcement officer. Rather than shirking from danger, police officers pledge to face danger with courage, and that is exactly what these two men did.

Inscribed here in Washington, DC on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial are these words: “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.”

Today we remember David and Jeff for their lives.  For their lives that was in service to others and their lives that served Topeka. We express our gratitude for their dedication to their community and to their country. We remember their families and their loved ones.

I ask that all Kansans­, in fact, all Americans-to join in remembering David's and Jeff's families in their thoughts and prayers this week. May God comfort them in their time of grief and be a source of strength for them. May He also protect all those who continue to serve us today.