The death of Constable Philippa Reynolds should give us all pause for thought.
The former teacher joined the PSNI only two years ago and was just 27.
All those future years of joys, sorrows, happiness and challenge wiped out in a second, consigned to the void.
And why did she do it? Because she wanted to serve and protect each and every one of us. Of course, she may not have put it quite like that. If she is like most police officers, she would have been embarrassed by such rhetoric.
But that shouldn't lessen our debt of gratitude to those who walk our streets, trying to make them safer. Just because we live in a relative kind of ‘peace', that doesn't mean there are no risks attached to the job.
Most of us can be fairly confident of what our day will involve: traffic jams, office chit- chat, meetings, lunch, meetings, and home. But — clichéd or no — our police officers do not have that kind of comforting banality. Criminals, burglars, irate citizenry, protesters, warring couples, drug peddlers — they all involve an element of risk that would unsettle most of us.
Donning the badge involves bravery. Raw, physical bravery.
The death of Philippa Reynolds — killed when a stolen 4x4 smashed into her police car at twenty to four on Saturday morning, an hour most of us are tucked up safely in our bed — is a poignant reminder that we owe a lot to the men and women of the PSNI.
Philippa fell in the line of duty. A self-imposed duty taken up totally voluntarily in order to make our lives a little bit safer, a little bit more tolerable.
We should never forget that.