Are You Planning for the UnExpected?

Another good cop fell in the line of duty last week. Nicholas Heine was 30 year old but he wasn’t felled by an assailant’s bullet nor was he stabbed or beaten.

Quoting from Nick Bonham of THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN June 22, 2008 12:38 am “Nicholas “Nick” Heine, a seven-year veteran of the Pueblo Police Department and a decorated and well-liked officer, collapsed about 2 a.m. while running between bar disturbances in the Historic Union Avenue District.

Heine died shortly later at Parkview Medical Center. He was 30.

Heine’s mother and co-worker, Detective Pat Heine, a 19-year veteran of the police department, said her son died of a heart problem that no one knew he had.

“Nick was in very good health,” she said. “The coroner said there was a congenital heart defect and it put his heart into a fatal, irregular rhythm. This could’ve happened 10 years ago or 25 years from now. It was just one of those things that happened.

“I commend the officers who were with him, that held on to him and didn’t let him hit the ground. Everyone, the rescue units, people at the hospital, they did everything known to man to save him.”

Pueblo County Coroner James Kramer said Heine’s heart problem was “uncommon, but not infrequent.” Kramer said Heine died of natural causes, not a heart attack.

Heine leaves behind a wife of seven years, Melissa, and daughters, Nichole, 7, and Rebecca, 4.

“Nick was a good father, a terrific husband,” said Pat Heine. “He loved his girls, loved playing with his girls. He was building them a fort in the backyard which isn’t quite completed.”

Heine collapsed in the 300 block of Victoria Street, where he and other officers had been dispatched to break up a disturbance, according to police.

Officers already had been in the area working other bar disturbances, so when they were called to a fight at nearby Bongirno’s, Heine and crew took off on foot.

Deputy Chief John Ercul was on patrol Friday night and witnessed officers trying to save Heine.

“There were some guys really hurting last night,” Ercul said, adding that more officers were called in to help work the streets after the incident. “We’re going to miss him, not only as a friend but as an associate, a fellow officer – and a darn good one, too.”

Billings said counselors, victim advocates and chaplains were called out Saturday to console officers and will continue to be available.

“It’s a different dynamic when someone causes the death of an officer,” Billings said. “You have a focal point to direct your anger. In this case, there’s no one to be angry at. It’s one of those tragic things that happened. I was hoping to make it through my career without losing an officer on duty. I’ve been on the force for 33 years. It didn’t happen.”

When he wasn’t wearing a badge, instructing rookies in defense tactics or spending time with family, Heine also coached a youth team with the Runyon Football League. He never played football in high school, but “he wanted to be active with kids,” his mother said.

Nick Heine leaves behind a wife of seven years, Melissa; and daughters Nichole, 7, and Rebecca, 4. He also is survived by a younger brother, Jason Heine, 28. His mother Det. Pat Heine is also a 19 year veteran of the Pueblo Police Department.

To read the full text of the article in the Chieftain please CLICK HERE

As with any line of duty death there are no easy answers.  The best we can all do is to learn from the experiences of our fallen comrades and plan our actions accordingly.

I found a post on the PoliceOne Forum on Wellness Issues labeled as Wellness Success Story CLICK HERE I found this post the very day I heard about Nick’s death.

“Greetings This is Lt. Col Jeffery W. Hart Asst. Chief of Police for the City of Morganfield Kentucky PD. I have never been a real advocate of Wellness training until April 2005 when at 43 and at 258 Pounds I was diagnosed with a Squeeze off on the back side of my heart. Under extreme Physical exertion the bottom third of my heart was being denied o2 because my heart was pounding so strongly it was closing the main vessel on the back side. This occurred after responding to an armed robbery alarm.

The simple fix was a stent in the occulded vessel which worked, however the required daily drug cocktail that ensued ruined my marriage and after two years I was fed up. I have lost 68 pounds and with medical advice dropped three of the five meds that i was on and now average 40 miles a week on a Bicycle. I feel better now that i ever have in my life. I actually weigh 10 pounds less than I did when they hired me 23 years ago. For those officers just coming out of the academy Never ever give up on your PT, Establish a Habit of PT for the rest of your life, you will live longer better stronger lives. Regardless if your agency requires it. Mine does not, and As a policy maker I am wrestling with ways to get everyone back into it. I cannot tell you how important this is to me for you to stay with your PT, I nearly died from ambivalence to it. A simple thing like 52 extra pounds and a relatively minor birth defect almost cost me my life.

Watch those hands, wear that armor Retreat is a viable option until cover is available.

Jeffery Hart”

Jeffery was lucky and Nick was not. As we all know some things are beyond our control. Others are not.

How’s your luck?
How’s your heart?
If something happened to you today would your loved ones be ok?

Because we have stressful careers, because we have dangerous jobs, because we hold the trust of the community and because we have families we must plan for our lives, we must plan for the safety of our peers, we must plan the safety of the people we serve and we must plan for on-going security our of families.  CopsAlive was founded for cops to help cops and we want you to plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond.

Here are some resources that might be of help to you:

CLICK HERE for a link to Wills for Heroes a FREE and non profit service for police officers, fire fighters and other first responders in the U.S. provided by a collection of attorneys who donate their time and expertise.

Wills for Heroes programs provide essential legal documents free of charge to our nation’s first responders, including wills, living wills, and powers of attorney. By helping first responders plan now, they ensure their family’s legal affairs are in order before a tragedy hits.

An excellent FAQ page created by the Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar about the Wills for Heroes Program VISIT THEM HERE

Roland & Smith are Insurance Brokers & Independent Financial Advisors listed with NARPO The National Association of Retired Police Officers in the United Kingdom VISIT THEM HERE

Here’s some information available to the members of the Hong Kong Police Force: VISIT THEM HERE

Interesting site by Attorney Michael Robinson info if you give your email info CLICK HERE


About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *