Parents of fallen Yarmouth officer: ‘We’re going to keep him alive’

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(WPRI) — The parents of a Yarmouth police officer killed in the line of duty are calling for change to prevent future tragedies like the one they are enduring.

Denise and Patrick Gannon are speaking out in honor of their son, Yarmouth K-9 Sergeant Sean Gannon, who was shot and killed last month while serving a warrant at a home in Barnstable.

“It wouldn’t a position that we would’ve chosen to be in, but it’s been one that’s been given to us, so it would be very easy to stay home and hide under the covers because that’s what we feel like doing everyday,” Patrick said. “But that’s not going to serve any good or offer any benefit, and Sean would not want us to be like that at all. So, we taught our kids to make a difference and be responsible in the work that they did, and do, in the world, and we want to just do that same thing.”

Denise told Eyewitness News she recalled asking her son what changes could be made to prevent gun violence tragedies. She remembers him telling her that it all starts with the family and the importance of teaching values and morals to children.

Now, after their son’s death, they are calling for change, starting with their family, their family in blue, and their family in faith.

“‘You’re doing the right thing.’ That would be his mantra,” Denise said. “Sean, since he was a child, has always said, ‘I just want to do the right thing.’ That’s what he would say. He would expect nothing less.”

The couple is calling for more respect for law enforcement, gun control and legal reform to prevent repeat offenders from shattering lives like their son’s killer did.

They know there’s momentum, from reading more than 10,000 pieces of mail sent to them since Sean’s death, many from New Bedford residents they have never met. They’ve heard a call for change from Governor Charlie Baker.

“It’s good to know that there really are a lot of, a huge number of very interested and dedicated people that want to see things done differently,” Patrick said. “That’s what we’re asking them to do right now. Don’t just be vocal to us, be vocal to elected officials.” 

Denise Gannon said she’d welcome the chance to speak to President Donald Trump and ask him why he’s not making the changes he promised to make in keeping cities and towns peaceful. 

While they’re pushing for change, the couple is also remembering their son.

“We have been in contact a couple of times with the mayor of New Bedford Jon Mitchell,” Patrick said. “They’re planning something to remember Sean as well.”

Bishop Stang High School, where Sean, his brother Tim, his sister Martha, and both his parents graduated, has also helped them through the grieving process, as well as Southcoast Hospitals, where they both work.

“We’re going to keep him alive,” Denise said. “In memory, to the future generations that come after him. They’ll know who Sean is.”

On Thursday, the Gannons accepted an award on Sean’s behalf in Boston from the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization. He was chosen as “Big Brother of the Year.” The boy he mentored through the program wants to become a police officer just like Sean.

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