Since this was Gabriel Cruz’s first death notification, Santana explained that he would do all of the talking. It was easier for a person
to follow when only one detective spoke. Had Cruz had more experience, Santana would’ve let him have the lead while he observed Matt Easton’s reaction to the news of his wife’s death.
Santana noted that nothing a detective said or did would ease the emotional pain. Still, a direct yet compassionate death notification
would aid in the grieving process. He viewed the difficult assignment as both a duty and an honor. Done right, it could ease the pain of the message they were entrusted to deliver.
“How do you deal with it?” Cruz asked.
“You mean homicide?”
“Yeah. I saw my share of death in Afghanistan. But I knew at some point I’d be leaving it all behind, though you never really
“Yet you chose to be a cop,” Santana said. “And not just a cop. But a homicide
“Quite a contradiction, huh?” Cruz said with a shake of his head.
“Yes, it is.”
Cruz looked out the passenger side window. “Instead of
killing, I want to find the ones who kill. We didn’t make much of a difference in Afghanistan. Didn’t change much of anything.”
“Except for those who got out.”
He looked at Santana. “But what about the families left behind?”
“That’s how you make this work,” Santana said. “Work every case like the victim is the most important person in your life. Never make a
family member feel victimized twice by your demeanor or lack of attention. They’re already hurting and looking for answers or closure. We shouldn't be making it worse for them. Everyone deserves the same level of service and respect going in.”
“Sounds like its personal.”
“Any good detective will tell you homicide investigations are always personal. Best you learn to keep it that