Digging through a pile of warrants, Peter Krause came across a kidnapping and assault case more than a year old. He pulled together a package of records so detectives could hit the street to bring the suspect in.
It wasn’t as fun as walking the Wooster Square beat and nabbing drivers who blow through stop signs. Or helping track down a robber who’d been preying on neighbors.
But it was work. Work that matters. And Krause was grateful to be doing it. Given the tumor that resides permanently in his brain and keeps trying to grow bigger.
After five years of chemotherapy, then a grueling recent round of radiation treatments, Krause maintains a daily determination to fight—to fight his own cancer, and to help New Haven fight crime, however he can.
He has no intention of sitting home or giving up on his future at 46 years old. In fact, he just got married.
Even while undergoing chemo, he was able to remain on the walking beat. The recent radiation proved too draining to keep walking, but it couldn’t keep him off the job. He made the switch to light duty and dived into it.
“I’m not a stay-at-home-on-disability kind of guy. I’m an old-fashioned guy; I’m just hardworking. I love my job. I’m not going to be miserable,” Krause said during an interview in the police department’s spare second-floor lounge.
“I can be miserable my whole life. Or I can look at the positive things in life.”
In choosing the latter, Krause has inspired his colleagues, who have rallied around him. They held a benefit party at Vandome recently to help Krause with out-of-pocket medical expenses. Current city cops, retired city cops, out-of-town cops, and Wooster Square neighbors who gave him an “officer of the year” award last year all turned out.
“All he wanted to do is get back to work [after radiation]. He has an amazing work ethic,” said Lt. Rebecca Sweeney, his supervisor in Wooster Square.
“Pete is one of our most remarkable patients,” said Kevin H. Becker, one of Krause’s doctors at the Smilow Cancer Hospital. “His ability to maintain a normal life in the face of such a treatment plan is rather extraordinary.”
Cancer docs became a fixture in Krause’s life in 2006, when they discovered his tumor. He was diagnosed with anapolastic oligoastrocytoma. He had an operation that August. They removed 90 percent of it. But that last 10 percent proved unreachable.
He underwent chemotherapy on and off for years, in spurts. A lot of people lose their hair during chemotherapy. A lot of people lose the energy to go to work. Krause kept his hair. And he kept coming to work—on light duty for a while, then back in Wooster Square. He has walked a beat in every district in the city; Wooster Square became his turf, and he grew close to neighbors.
“The chemo was basically keeping [the tumor] at bay. It wasn’t shrinking it,” he said.
Then he learned last year that the tumor was growing again. He needed to undergo more intense treatment—radiation.
He figured he could handle it the way he handled the chemo. He scheduled treatments for the morning, figuring he’d walk the beat in the afternoon.
That lasted three days. He found he was exhausted, unable to concentrate. He decided he needed to go inside on light duty again. “I’m not going to be a danger to my brother and sister officers that I can’t help them. I’m not going to be a danger to myself.”
And this time he did lose much of his hair.
He was able to push himself to be useful inside 1 Union Ave. First he answered phones, did paperwork, distributed mail for then-patrol supervisor Capt. Joann Peterson. Next he switched to a similar gig in the chief’s office. Finally he landed in the records division, tackling the backlog of warrants. Each day he gets 10 to 12 warrants ready to be served. He researches the cases, prints out reports, prepares folders, then delivers them to supervisors. Sometimes they’ll discuss which cops it makes sense to send out.
Light duty took some getting used to for a hands-on guy drawn to out-in-the-community contact. (He’s also a carpenter and martial-arts instructor.)
“It’s tough. I’m a beat cop; it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing,” Krause reflected. “It was a difficult transition to not be out there and catching the bad guys. I haven’t given a stop sign ticket since September!”
Staring down brain cancer every day taught Krause to appreciate each day more than ever. To be happy to wake up in the morning. Even, sometimes, to appreciate the fact that he’s tying his shoes.
That he has a job to go to, with people he loves working with, from records clerks who have lightning computer skills to lieutenants and captains who let him know they appreciate his help.
“I was raised in a family where you work, you take pride in your work. There’s honor in going to work everyday and earning a living.”
He recalled his father, Leonard Krause, an Olin Corp. toxicologist, as “an in-the-field kind of guy. When he got promoted he would still be the guy who would walk into the lab to make sure things were working right. He found a way to get back out there” from behind a desk.
Leonard Krause’s son is determined to keep finding ways to get back out there, too. He thinks of basketball star Magic Johnson, who kept “walking around” in the face of deadly diagnosis. The quest begins with maintaining hope, to envisioning a future. On Jan. 1 he married Sherrye, an accountant he got to know at a mutual hangout, the Branford Elks Club. At a doctor’s visit last Friday he learned the results of his most recent MRI: it revealed “some shrinkage” of the tumor. That gives his immune system a chance to keep fighting back. His next scan comes in three months.
“If we can keep it shrinking,” Krause said, “I’ll be out on the street again.
“I’m not going to let it bring me down. I have too much life to live. As much I don’t want to have this tumor, it’s been a valuable lesson. I pay more attention to all the little things life has to offer. It would be easy to have a bad attitude. Where would that get me?”
Krause’s hair has grown back. It’s grayer now. His mustache is as bushy as ever. He’s proud of that. He has a challenge to meet, he said.
“I compete with Lt. [Ray] Hassett,” Badge #74 said. “He and I are the only ones [in the department] who can grow mustaches like this.”
Read other installments in the Independent’s “Cop of the Week” series:
• Shafiq Abdussabur
• Lloyd Barrett
• Maneet Bhagtana
• Paul Bicki
• Scott Branfuhr
• Dennis Burgh
• Sydney Collier
• David Coppola
• Roy Davis
• Joe Dease
• Milton DeJesus
• Brian Donnelly
• Anthony Duff
• Bertram Etienne
• Paul Finch
• Jeffrey Fletcher
• Renee Forte
• Marco Francia
• William Gargone
• William Gargone & Mike Torre
• Derek Gartner
• Jon Haddad & Daniela Rodriguez
• Dan Hartnett
• Ray Hassett
• Robin Higgins
• Ronnell Higgins
• Racheal Inconiglios
• Paul Kenney
• Hilda Kilpatrick
• Peter Krause
• Amanda Leyda
• Anthony Maio
• Steve McMorris
• Juan Monzon
• Stephanie Redding
• Tony Reyes
• Luis & David Rivera
• Luis Rivera (2)
• Salvador Rodriguez
• Brett Runlett
• David Runlett
• Marcus Tavares
• Martin Tchakirides
• Stephan Torquati
• Gene Trotman Jr.
• Kelly Turner
• Lars Vallin (& Xander)
• John Velleca
• Holly Wasilewski
• Alan Wenk
• Michael Wuchek
• David Zannelli
• David Zaweski
(To suggest an officer to be featured, contact us here.)