We Take Care of Those Who Take Care of Us

Remembering Officer Braswell

We’re fragile.
Everything can be taken away in a moment.
Those were the thoughts that entered my mind when Sgt. Gary Ferreri called me Saturday evening to tell me about injuries suffered by Officers Christine Braswell and Bernenda Marc.
An hour or so later, while we sat listening to beautiful music at the Parker Playhouse, the texts and messages began to pour in. Christine had passed.
I’ve had these calls and messages before. We all have and it doesn’t get easier. And in many ways they get harder, as if the tragedies pile on top of each other digging deeper into our hearts.
This weekend’s devastating news brought back painful memories of Sgt. Adam Rosenthal and Officer Johnny Pun also lost tragically in accidents at the height  of their careers. I also thought back to a call in 2001 when we learned that 23-year veteran firefighter Peter Firehock was killed three days before Christmas by a man who plowed his van into Pete while he was out for a bike ride. Police think the van driver believed Pete might have witnessed him dumping a body in a nearby field. The driver received 35 years for vehicular homicide. We lost a 48-year-old community servant who was renowned for his diving skills and was beloved by all. He was known as a “hero among heroes.” These people are simply irreplaceable.
Christine and Bernenda were reportedly hit by an impaired driver while riding a scooter in Key West. Officer Marc suffered serious injuries and we pray for her recovery. She’s only 25. Christine was only 41. She was a star performer at the Police Department serving on the SWAT team and as a member of the Honor Guard. She was beloved by her fellow officers and the community.
It’s in these moments that you see just how close our officers are to each other and to many of the people they protect and serve.
This is a closeness we ought to appreciate, savor and be thankful for. I’m not sure how common it is–especially during these fraught times in which most of the headlines detail friction and worse between citizens and police.
But our department is different. It’s been different for a long time.

We support our police and they support us. It’s helped to give us good times and saved our town in bad.

There’s not only a warmth between citizens and our police department–fire department too. There’s a genuine affection too that runs both ways.
That was apparent when news spread about Officer Braswell and Officer Marc. We saw it on social media with an outpouring of prayer, in emails and text messages with people trying hard to find information and asking how they could help.
We saw it when Johnny Pun passed and we saw it when we lost Adam Rosenthal.
For those of us who knew these officers the news over the weekend stung extra hard.
Johnny was a force of nature with an electric smile, a great sense of humor and a ton of ambition for the kids he wanted to save from a life of crime.

Johnny and his partner and close friend the recently retired Fred Glass, founded a charter school and we became the proud home of the first Police Department in Florida to do so.
Johnny was a dad and a mentor to many who lacked strong parental guidance. He spoke Creole and reached deep into a part of Delray that’s hard to reach. He can never be replaced.
He went to school on a weekend day and was killed in a motorcycle accident. And suddenly his energy and his smile were gone. It was stunning. It’s still stunning.
We lost Adam in a car accident as he headed into work. He was a RAD instructor teaching women how to defend themselves. He worked with kids teaching them martial arts and mentoring them and he was an able and smart union leader.
Losing him so suddenly was surreal. He seemed indestructible.
But none of us are.
Christine was young, strong, focused and earned many friendships all over Delray. She worked as a training officer and with our Police Explorers. She reached deep into neighborhoods and won hearts and minds with her personality and dedication to Delray Beach.
It’s hard to imagine that she’s gone.
Officer Marc is a brand new officer. She was seriously injured.
She will need our prayers, support and love. And she will get it.
Delray officers refer to each other as family. And they are.
But many in our community also consider our officers family. We take pride in their service. We rely on their bravery and expertise.
And we pray for their safety. We also mourn when they are lost or hurt.
Thanks Christine.
You will never be forgotten.
In this town, we remember those who serve and protect us.
We take care of our own.


  1. Kerry Koen says

    Thanks Jeff. Your point is well stated and very important – we must take care of those who take care of us.

    Kerry Koen
    Fire Chief (retired)

  2. Stacey Winick (Resident) says

    Beautifully expressed Jeff. Thank you for helping to remember and honor Christine and so many special people serving our city. Prayers still being sent for Bernenda’s full recovery.

  3. Kathy Horrell says

    What a great story Jeff! I knew Johnny and Adam very well, since they worked with my ex husband, Jim, and in my capacity as a volunteer with Walking Patrol. Their deaths are still unbelievable to me. I loved both of them and had known them for many years. I met Christine a couple times before I had left Florida, but never met Bernenda. I feel such a sadness for the families of these two women, and for the Delray Beach Police Department. This is so devastating for them. It’s obvious they were so well loved. My condolences.
    Kathy Horrell

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Thanks Kathy. I can still picture you and Cheryl Brown patrolling the avenue. Johnny and Adam were special people. Christine was very much in their mold.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.