The Guns & Yoga Podcast

Episode #24: Blue for Brian – The Arterburn’s Story of tragedy, healing, and resilience

December 7, 2021

Today we will hear a conversation I had with Claudale Arterburn, a retired Wichita police officer. Claudale is married to Brian Arterburn, also a veteran police officer who is now medically retired due to injuries he sustained in February 2017 while attempting to capture a felony suspect, an incident that nearly took his life and left him with a TBI and other serious medical issues.

Claudale shares the details of that day, walks us through what life has been like for both her and Brian, and the complications of traumatic brain injuries.  At a time when Brian and Claudale were looking forward to starting their life together, as they had just been married 3 weeks prior, she was making life and death decisions for Brian.

In February 2017, Brian was conducting surveillance in South Wichita, a regular part of his job.  While attempting to capture a fleeing felon in a stolen vehicle, Brian was run over.  He suffered chest, abdomen, and brain injuries and spent nearly 10 months in hospitals throughout the country, having numerous surgeries and dealing with other serious complications. Claudale talks about Brians journey and the time she spent with him during those days away from home and her support system. 

Brian’s community rallied behind him, they sent letters, made t-shirts, and so many people had Blue for Brian yard signs; in fact there are still several out even today that I see in our community. 

As I personally reflect on the events of that day, there is a quote on the ODMP website that comes to mind - it reads: “When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation” – when Brian was injured no one knew if he would survive - the impact of this event touched so many people, and still does to this day, including Brian’s family, friends, co-workers who were with Brian that day, his entire agency, and the Wichita community;

In addition to being Brian’s sole care-giver, Claudale tells us she is starting the next chapter in her life with a career in counseling; she is finishing up her schooling and wants to work with other first responders and their families.  She knows first hand what it’s like to do the job, survive tragedy, and now wants to give back and serve others who selflessly serve our community.

When we first started the podcast, the mission was to educate and inform,  first responders and their families.  But now, I think it’s imperative that everyone listens and here’s why.  At a time when not only law enforcement but all public safety professions are struggling to hire and retain personnel, it is imperative that we come together so we can do more to support those who are willing to do the things most others are not.  When Brian went to work the day his life changed forever, he had been doing that for over 25 years – just the same as all of our first responders.  We need to come together as a community and do a better job serving them (first responders) because if they are mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy, they will better serve their community. THIS is police reform at it’s most fundamental level.

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