Generic Bible-quoting cop slain

"A gentle giant."

"A man of God."

The accolades are pouring in for Brian Huff, a veteran Detroit police officer killed in the line of duty Monday. From the earliest news reports, Huff's strong faith came into play.

This was the headline on the initial online report by the Detroit Free Press identifying the officer:

Fallen officer was fun-loving, devout

In that story, an officer friend reflected on Huff:

Detroit Officer John Bennett said he worked with Huff at an alternative education school, where Huff was moonlighting to make ends meet.

"He was a man of God," Bennett said. "He was just a fun-loving, big guy."

Huff was as quick to quote Scripture as he was to crack a joke, Bennett said.

"I don't think you'll find anyone who has anything bad to say about him," added Bennett, who said his colleagues are devastated.

The print version of the story in today's Free Press contained basically the same details. Meanwhile, The Detroit News ran a Page 1 sidebar on Huff with this headline and subhead:

'A wonderful man we can't replace'

Friends, colleagues say fallen Detroit policeman was devoted to his family and faith

There's that F-word one more time. Again, Bennett is quoted, this time telling the reporter:

"He could quote verses from the Bible like he was a pastor, and it was clear that God and family were important to him."

But neither the News nor the Free Press makes the great leap from generic quotes to meatier details about the religious background of this officer, nicknamed "Huff Daddy."

Now, I know how difficult it can be for a reporter to track down such specific information in the immediate aftermath of a shooting like this. Police officers, in particular, are not always overly forthcoming with personal details about themselves or their colleagues. I get that.

However, if the faith angle is important enough to include in the headline and the top of the story, basic questions need to be answered: Was the officer a regular churchgoer? If so, where did he maintain his membership? What does the pastor have to say about him? How are his fellow church members dealing with the tragedy?

Undoubtedly, the Detroit papers will write more about Huff in coming days. I hope they take advantage of the opportunity to explain in more detail what makes a burly cop quote Scripture on the job.

And hey, if they really want to spook the religion ghosts, they might even explore the specific books, chapters and verses that he quoted.

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