A cloud of grief and heartache covers the Grand Valley in the wake of the death of Mesa County Sheriff's Deputy Derek Geer, and here's why his death impacts us all so deeply.

For his family, friends, and co-workers the grief must be unbearable, and we can only imagine the magnitude of their sorrow. But, the tragic and senseless shooting of Deputy Geer has sent the entire community as well into a state of shock and mourning. It's like a wave of sadness and somberness has covered us all.

A career in law enforcement brings with it a high level of risk. Men and women of the badge put their lives on the line every single day they don their uniform. Even though it had been more than 100 years since the Mesa County Sheriff's Department had experienced an in-the-line-of-duty death, that doesn't change the fact that the men and women of this department have put their lives on the line for this community each and every day since then.

Across the country, in 2015, 130 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Over the last six years in the United States, an average of 120 officers have lost their lives each year.

On Wednesday of this week, two deputy officers in Maryland were shot and killed by the same suspect. It happens all too often. A community suffers and grieves over the loss of precious men and women in uniform.

These are men and women just like you and me. They have wives, husbands, kids, parents, friends, and co-workers. They attend church, love to camp and fish and hunt, they cheer on their favorite football team, love to laugh, and are involved in their communities. They attend school functions for their kids, go to parades, and enjoy eating dinner out on a Friday night.

They have families to support and bills to pay, just like the rest of us. They go to work each day to do a job and they go home each day to be with their families. The difference between them and most of us is their chosen occupation requires them to put their lives at risk each and every day.

It takes a special person to be willing to do that. It takes a strong, brave, and unselfish person. Deputy Geer was one of those special people. And, now, he has been taken from us.

Whenever we hear of officers across the country who have been killed in the line of duty, are hearts are saddened, to be sure. We can't help but be affected. But, when it happens in our very own community, it suddenly becomes extremely personal.

Deputy Geer was one of ours. But, more than that, he was one of us. He was a friend, a father, a husband, a comrade. He was a friendly face, a pillar of strength, and a protector and defender of Mesa County residents. Even those of us who did not know Derek personally feel this great sense of loss, because he was, in fact, one of us. This is why each of us is affected so deeply by this loss.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Deputy Geer's family, his circle of friends, and his co-workers who have daily worked beside him for so long. We can't stop the hurt, or make the pain go away. But, it is our hope they will feel the support of this community through love, prayers, sympathy, and even financial gifts and that somehow, with God's help we can be a measure of comfort and strength to help them through this incredibly difficult time.