Fifty years is the golden anniversary and it is usually celebrated as a time of happiness. But not for my family. Fifty years ago, on June 10, 1972, tragedy struck and our lives would never be the same.
It was a normal summer day for our family of four — working parents with a pair of daughters, ages 7 and 3. We were so proud of our dad because he was a Rome city police officer.
Doug Meers loved his family and job. You can see the smile on his face with me and my sister on his lap or whenever he was with family. There are stories and pictures of arrests, moonshine busts, and there could have been so much more.
You see, that’s all our family has now are the stories people tell and the pictures that were taken. This is because on the night of June 10, Doug Meers was killed in the line of duty and taken from his family.
Doug and his partner, Bill Harris, were investigating a hit and run that led them to a house on Ohio Drive. Bill was the one to approach the door and that’s when things quickly turned violent.
Bill entered the house and was met by three men who began beating him and wrestling him for his weapon. At this point my dad entered the home with his pistol drawn and gave warning. At that time, he was shot.
Before going down, my dad was able to shoot one of the three men involved, who also lost his life that night. Officer Harris recovered from his physical injuries, although I wonder if he ever thought about this day again.
The gunman (I will not name him; he has passed away but I am not a vindictive person and don’t want to hurt his family) was eventually caught later that night. When his day in court arrived, he was sentenced to 10 years for aggravated assault on top of life in prison for murder.
Life in prison — that means until you die, correct? Not so much in this case. This man was released from prison in less than 10 years. The justice system has been flawed for years and it does not seem to be getting any better.
I write this today in memory of my dad. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him and wish he was here. I wonder how my life would have been different. Would he be proud? He has multiple grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. My son is named after him so his memory lives on daily in my life, as it will forever.
Our officers in blue are sons, husbands, dads, boyfriends, best friends, and our protectors. We ask a lot of them when they put on that uniform. This they understand when they take that oath to honor and serve. We as a country need to stand up and protect and honor all they do for us.
Gone but never forgotten. Harlow Douglas Meers — Rome City Police.
April Meers Bryan