Consider the following sobering words from the Law Enforcement Memorial website:
On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
If that paragraph doesn’t grab your attention, there’s something wrong with you. Most cops know another LEO whose name is inscribed on the Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. The man or woman who made the ultimate sacrifice is a spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, niece, or nephew . . . well, you get the picture. Every name on that sacrosanct concrete façade represents a family member, friend, or colleague. Most departments or agencies do a good job of comforting the survivors of the heroes who have fallen. Support in the form of money and companionship overflows at the time of the incident, as well it should.
The problem, however, comes to the fore as the months and years add up. Fewer people call, friends disappear and support dwindles with the passing of each day. As the survivors try to move forward with their lives, they are isolated from the very group they used to consider integral to their existence. What used to be a law enforcement family gradually evaporates, and unless the survivor(s) reaches out, the connection to the Thin Blue Line becomes tenuous at best.
What’s the answer? Things such as getting involved with this year’s Police Week, May 13 – 19, 2012. If you’ve never attended this spectacular, moving, very profound event, I urge you to do so. The various displays and events are designed to pay tribute to the fallen Warriors who died so that others may live. The most solemn gathering of the week-long tribute is the Candlelight Vigil, where thousands of survivors, family members and colleagues stand in silent tribute, candles lit, signifying the hope that exists because of the sacrifice made by the valiant men and women who died.
National Police Week does not only honor those killed in the line of duty. Each year, there are approximately 16,000 assaults on law enforcement officers, resulting in nearly 60,000 injuries. There are hundreds of LEOs whose lives have been changed forever, due to crippling injuries suffered in the line of duty. The same phenomenon occurs with them as with the deceased LEOs. As the years go by, these heroes find their world shrinking. The formerly great support system fades away, until the wounded officer has only their immediate family to give them the strength to carry on.
Another way to get involved in Police Week is to donate or volunteer with C.O.P.S., Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc. This organization provides resources that assist in rebuilding the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. C.O.P.S. provides training to law enforcement agencies regarding survivor victimization issues, and educates the public about supporting the law enforcement profession and its survivors.
C.O.P.S. will have a presence at Police Week, and the organization offers important life-saving seminars. Sessions target surviving co-workers, significant others, fiancés and extended family members. There’s also a C.O.P.S. Kids/Teens Program for children under the age of 18. Some of the sessions include:
- Surviving the Crisis as a Couple
- Reaching Out to the Newly Bereaved
- Am I Still a Brother/Sister?
- Making it Through the First Two Years (Spouses, Fiancés, Significant Others, and Life Partners only)
- Preparing for Trial and the Aftermath
- Tactics for Preventing Chronic Depression
- Loss and Grief-Why Do I Feel This Way
I think you will agree, the aforementioned topics are of paramount importance for those who have lost a loved one. Without the help from support groups such as C.O.P.S., we might very well lose the survivors to depression, drugs and perhaps, even suicide. Your help is needed to fund this worthwhile cause. You can do so here: Donate.