Wednesday’s horrific murder of a cop is a painful reminder of the risks officers take each and every day. No matter where they work or what time of day or night, police officers put themselves in harm’s way, never knowing what that next call or encounter will bring.

Even when concerns are raised about excessive force or abuse of police authority, citizens should be mindful of how dangerous it can be to “protect and serve.”

From all accounts, Mendota Heights officer Scott Patrick, 47, took that law enforcement anthem to heart. The slain cop is described as a devoted family man who cared deeply about his community and its residents.

With 19 years on the force in Mendota Heights, he was the most senior member of the small department and the first killed in the line of duty from the suburban agency.

During what is described as a routine traffic stop, Patrick was gunned down Wednesday afternoon on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue S. in West St. Paul.

Several hours later, after exchanging more gunfire with police, suspect Brian Fitch Sr., 39, was arrested in St. Paul in the city’s North End neighborhood. Fitch and a female companion were wounded as they tried to flee from police in a vehicle; both were taken to Regions Hospital. The woman, identified as Kelly Lee Hardy, is expected to survive. Authorities said Fitch is in serious condition.

The alleged shooter’s lengthy criminal history dates to 1995, according to authorities. Fitch has been charged and jailed in Ramsey and Hennepin counties for offenses that include nonpayment of child support, prescription fraud, felony drugs, and assaults, terroristic threats, burglary and firearm possession.

Several law enforcement departments were involved in the arrest, including St. Paul, Mendota Heights and West St. Paul, and all merit praise for coordinated efforts to capture the suspect within hours of the shooting.

Patrick embodied the best of community policing, according to residents of his city.

He would regularly stop in to chat with business owners and others on his beat while on patrol. And Adreon Morgan recalled how Patrick was at the scene when she was hit by a car six years ago and visited her while she was in the hospital.

The veteran officer is survived by his wife, Michelle, and two teenage daughters. Donations to help support the family can be made at

Along with his family and friends, a grateful community mourns the loss of a true public servant.