CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Chandler police officer killed in the line of duty was known for serving his community and his fellow officers. Officer Chris Farrar served in law enforcement for 18 years. He was also a certified stress coach working with the nonprofit Under the Shield to promote officer mental wellness.
"It is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking," says Susan Simons, founder of Under the Shield. "He loved his god. He loved his family, he loved his community, and he loved this country."
Simons says she met Farrar in 2012. The two grew close when Farrar came to her for help during a dark period of his life. "Because of that experience, he wanted to help others," says Simons.
A procession for fallen Chandler police officer Christopher Farrar occurred early Friday morning.
Under the Shield offers training at police academies and instruction to help officers cope with job-related stress and the impact on their personal lives. Farrar was certified through the program as a stress coach, and Simons says he was passionate about helping his colleagues in uniform. Some law enforcement members credit Farrar with saving their lives. "We got through some pretty heavy stuff," says Arizona law enforcement officer, Matthew Felix. "Saving my life, in a way. There were several instances where I picked up the phone and called Chris."
Laurie Vernon, a police officer in Alabama, says Farrar guided her through struggles by sharing his experiences in crisis. "Had he not told me about those things, I would not have realized that's where I was at the time," says Vernon. "Impacting my life in a positive manner was part of his purpose, and he did that. And I know he did that for so many other people."
"He’s just that kind of guy. Can’t help but love him," said Don Shaw. Don Shaw said the reason he's still here is because of Officer Chris Farrar. Several years ago Don suffered a heart attack late at night, and Officer Farrar happened to be around the corner. He heard the 911 call and rushed over to Don's house, there to help with compressions before paramedics even arrived.
But he didn't stop there. "He came and visited me in the hospital while I was still down," Don said. He and Officer Farrar formed a bond, and even after Don was released from the hospital, Don said the officer came to their house again with his daughter to check on him. Don and his wife Marji said they are heartbroken and will miss him. "We’re sick because he's one of the sweetest guys you could ask for," the couple said.
Many would say the 50-year-old was living his best life. Farrar was excited about his new assignment as a K-9 officer, and he loved spending time with his granddaughter. Those who love him remember him as a prankster, outdoorsman and family man. Farrar leaves behind three children, a granddaughter, his parents, a brother and sister, and a sister-in-law. "It's just a terrible loss that didn't have to happen," says Simons. "That's what makes this such a tragedy. It should have never happened."
In addition to training and coaching services, Under the Shield operates a 24-hour crisis hotline at 855-889-2348.