Matt Bloesch was a typical 13-year-old trying to find his place in the world. His dad was his best friend, who he respected and looked to for guidance. Matt’s world was completely shattered on August 2, 1988, when his dad, San Francisco, California, Police Officer James Bloesch, was accidentally shot and killed while on duty.
Through the rest of his teen years and into adulthood, Matt became fiercely independent and distracted himself with sports, partying and, eventually, his career. “I was good at things like work because there was an instruction manual. But I never learned how to be a good dad, husband or friend because I never learned how to deal with my emotions,” Matt said.
Matt’s world started to collapse around him, and he knew he needed help. He found it at the West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat, a center for first responders living with post-traumatic stress injury. “I was trapped for a long time because I thought I was the only one suffering and feeling the way I felt,” Matt said. “When other people opened up to me about what they were going through, I no longer felt alone, and I felt safe talking about all of the dark things that had been running around in my head.”
Getting his life back on track meant Matt was ready to focus on his future. Wanting to be like his dad and work in a field where he could help people every day, Matt took courses in administration of justice. “Ten minutes into my first law class, I knew that law enforcement was my calling. I have loved every day of this career.”
Matt and his wife, Karen, attend the C.O.P.S. Adult Children’s Retreat each June. In 2022, Matt was grateful for the opportunity to serve as a mentor at both Kids Camp and Young Adults Camp. “They were both great experiences, but I related more to the young adults because I remember being that age and trying to navigate life without my dad,” he said. “Life between the ages of 15–20 was the hardest years of my life. I talked about some of the things I dealt with at that age, the mistakes I made, where I wish I would have zigged instead of zagged, and the things that really helped me through those years.”
Knowing how lonely losing a parent at that age can feel, Matt wants every surviving child to know he is at least one person who truly “gets it.” The advice he gives is this: “Be good to yourself. Your parent who you lost loved you very much. The best thing you can do to honor them is to live a whole and happy life and carry on the legacy. This is something I learned along the way after having my own kids. I want them to be happy and healthy. If anything ever happened to me, I would still want them to be happy and healthy, and to remember me by doing their part to make the world a better place.”
On December 2, 2022, Matt was promoted to captain at the Fairfield, (California), Police Department. He will oversee the Operations Division. He is pictured with his wife (Karin), daughter (Bridget) and son (James).