On January 7th, 2016, while on patrol, Philadelphia Police Officer and Brothers Before Others Partner/member Jesse Hartnett was ambushed and shot at point blank range. Despite being seriously injured, Jesse exited his vehicle, chased and eventually shot his assailant.
Ironically, THAT isn’t the story of Jesse Hartnett. Jesse’s story is told by what has happened since that day. There’s a lot of talk in this profession about being a warrior. Truth be told, none of us really knows what kind of heart beats in our chests until that heart is tested. Responding how he did leaves no question as to the heart that Jesse has. Surviving traumatic incidents is a struggle, thankfully, not everyone has to face, and the bond that is created between those that have is unlike anything else out there.
Shortly after Jesse was injured, having endured his own personal stress and trauma, NYPD police officer, BBO President/Founder Michael Burke knew it was important that Jesse hear the words “It’s going to be OK” from someone who KNEW them to be true. As such, Michael arranged for Port Authority Police Officer and BBO member Will Jimeno to travel to Philadelphia in order for him to meet Jesse. More than most, Will knows exactly what survival and thriving means, having survived being buried under World Trade Center towers debris on 9/11. Someone like Will telling you it’s going to be OK means a lot more than the normal words of encouragement.
Since then, Jesse fought through countless surgeries and endured seemingly endless hours of rehabilitation. Despite fighting his own physical battles, Jesse has been tirelessly staying active in the law enforcement community. He has traveled the country, speaking to police officers and school children, inspiring them all to persevere no matter what personal struggle they are experiencing.
Through his website and foundation, The Hartnett Hero Fund, Jesse is focused on, among other things, raising awareness of the importance of and funds for the installation of window armor for police vehicles. In his words, “Getting knocked down was a fraction of the battle; rising above and overcoming the obstacles along the way is a challenge I embrace. Keep fighting!”
Michael Burke stated, “Three years ago, the world found out what many of his friends and family already knew: Jesse Hartnett is a warrior. Since then, Jesse has become a husband, a father and an ambassador for our brotherhood. He travels the country, speaking about his encounter and used his experiences to help others, both inside and outside of law enforcement. He does this with humor, humility and honor. He has come such a long way since the first time I met him. I am proud to call him a friend and a brother.”
On a personal level, having been an outside observer to the good that this group has brought out of people, nothing can properly describe the feeling of seeing Jesse pay forward the care, concern and inspiration that was shown to him along his journey. When another one of our members, Joe Leighthardt, who also worked for the Philadelphia Police Department, was in the grips of his own battle, Jesse was among the first to respond when it came to visiting and checking in on him.
As I stated earlier, Jesse’s story isn’t told by what happened on January 7th, 2016. Jesse’s story is told by the man he is today; and the heart that beats in chest is second to none.
For More Information on the Hartnett Hero Fund: