Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shine Your Light Wednesdays: C.O.P.S.

Too often, I think we fail to recognize those who are protecting our neighborhoods, homes, families, and even our children, some of whom have given the ultimate sacrifice.  I know I myself sometimes see police as people I've got to watch out for, or I might get a ticket....I fail to see them as fellow human beings sometimes.

This past week, my family and I watched an older episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that really touched my heart (to read the story about the fallen officers whose families were helped in this episode, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page on this link), and we learned about a non-profit organization called C.O.P.S., Concerns of Police Survivors.  Here is their mission statement, just so you can learn what their purpose is: Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc. provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty as determined by Federal criteria. Furthermore, C.O.P.S. provides training to law enforcement agencies on survivor victimization issues and educates the public of the need to support the law enforcement profession and its survivors.  

According to statistics on the C.O.P.S. website, between 140-160 law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty every year; these officers, in turn, leave behind family and coworkers and friends, and this organization is there to help support the surviving families and coworkers, free of charge, with no strings attached.  With more than 15,000 families as members today, this shows you how many officers we have lost since C.O.P.S. was started in 1984.  C.O.P.S. programs for survivors include the National Police Survivors' Conference held each May during National Police Week, scholarships, peer-support at the national, state, and local levels, "C.O.P.S. Kids" counseling reimbursement program, the "C.O.P.S. Kids" Summer Camp, "C.O.P.S. Teens" Outward Bound experience for young adults, special retreats for spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, and in-laws, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.  They also provide special training for different law enforcement offices across the country, in order to help them learn how to cope when a member of their particular office is lost.

Here are examples of what the people working in this organization do for the survivors:
  • C.O.P.S. is there to help the survivors as quickly as possible after the death of the officer.  These deaths are too often sudden, unexpected, and violent.  They are there to be a support and encouragement and to help the family to relate to someone who's gone through the same thing they are going through.  Through the months and years, they are encouraged through newsletters, remembrance cards, etc.
  • During National Police Week, there are counseling sessions and seminars available to both adults and kids who have survived the death of their loved ones or coworkers.  Something I really thought was wonderful is that they also have summer camps for surviving spouses and kids ages 6-14 and a Wilderness Experience for older teenagers, ages 15-20.  This allows them the chance to work through their grief in the company of other survivors, as well as counselors who can help them deal in a healthy manner.
  • C.O.P.S. has information available to survivors on death benefits they might receive in their state; this can be very helpful to these families whose lives have been turned upside down.
  • There are local C.O.P.S. chapters in several states.
  • During National Police Week, which runs the week of May 15, people are encouraged to have the blue ribbons on their car as a remembrance of fallen officers and as a show of support to those who protect us day and night.
  • When a "cop killer" is about to be paroled, support volunteers are also there to help the family get through the trial and even in the preparation of a "victim impact statement."  They also help survivors with letters written when a "cop killer" is being considered for parole. 
Since C.O.P.S. runs solely off of donations and contributions, they need our support.  They need support from individuals, families, organizations, corporations, etc.  Donations can be made online.  Maybe you're not able to make a donation, but maybe you could hold a fundraiser for this organization to show your support.  To find out how you can help support C.O.P.S., I encourage you to check out their page, Ways to Donate.  You can even check out the C.O.P.S. Store

To close, here is a recent press release, written by Brooke McKay, for the end of 2009:
For Immediate Release
Brooke McKay
Marketing Coordinator
Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc.

Another Year of Rebuilding Shattered Lives
By: Brooke McKay, C.O.P.S. Marketing Coordinator

Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) mission since 1984 has been to “rebuild the shattered lives” of the surviving family members of law enforcement officers who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. C.O.P.S. helps the officers’ survivors by providing emotional support and healing programs needed to cope with a sudden, and often violent, death. C.O.P.S. aids the surviving family members through grief retreats, conferences during National Police Week, scholarships, and strong peer support…survivors helping survivors, the foundation on which the organization was built.

C.O.P.S. provided seven hands-on programs in 2009 for just about every category of survivor. C.O.P.S. Kids Camp was held for surviving children ages 6-14, Outward Bound® for surviving teens ages 15-20, and retreats for adult children, siblings, spouses, parents, and in-laws. Starting in 2010, C.O.P.S. will host an inaugural affected co-workers’ retreat. All programs provided by C.O.P.S. are free of charge; the price paid is already too high.

In 2009, C.O.P.S. spent $307,500 on hands-on programs and $327,850 at National Police Week. At total of $635,350 was spent in 2009 for C.O.P.S.’s healing grief retreats and counseling. C.O.P.S. also awarded $102,788 in scholarships.

C.O.P.S. Kids Camp was held July 27-August 2, in East Troy, Wisconsin, at the Salvation Army Lake Camp. Kids Camp had 206 survivors and a staff of 44 with an average cost of $609 per person. Outward Bound® was held July 26-August 3, white-water rafting in Grand Junction, Colorado. Outward Bound® had 42 attendees and 4 mentors with an average cost of $1,733 per person. The adult children, siblings, spouses, and in-laws retreats were all held in Potosi, Missouri, at the YMCA Trout Lodge. The Adult Children’s Retreat was held June 26-29, 25 were in attendance with an average cost of $624 per person. The Siblings’ Retreat was held September 11-14, with 64 in attendance and an average cost of $542 per person. The Surviving Spouses’ Getaway was held September 18-21, with 90 spouses attending and the average cost per person was $500. The In-Laws Retreat was held October 16-19, with 25 attending and the average cost of $558 per person. The Parents’ Retreat was held in Little Rock, Arkansas at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center, October 30-November 2, there were 196 parents at the retreat with an average cost of $391 per person. At these retreats, survivors attend grief seminars led by mental health professionals and find great support from their peers. The afternoon programs provided at the retreats help the survivors to learn new outdoor skills and rebuild self-esteem which is often destroyed with the sudden, violent death of a loved one. The vast majority of survivors attending C.O.P.S.’ programs say the weekends initiate positive change in their lives.

C.O.P.S. also holds a two-day grief conference each May during National Police Week in Washington, DC. In 2009, C.O.P.S. spent $327,850 to provide support to the nations’ law enforcement survivors during National Police Week. Over 2,000 survivors attended that event.

C.O.P.S. is a national, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization with 50 chapters throughout the United States. C.O.P.S. membership is comprised of more than 15,000 surviving families; and, unfortunately, that membership continues to grow as 140-160 law enforcement officers are killed every year in the line of duty.

Visit C.O.P.S.’ website,, for more information on the organization and the programs offered to America’s surviving law enforcement families.


The Real Me! January 6, 2010 at 6:48 AM  

What a wonderful organization. One of our best friends is a Deputy and he is a real person with concerns and trials just like everyone else and we admire his dedication and sacrifice on behalf of people who couldn't care less sometimes.
Great post my friend.

Missy January 6, 2010 at 5:18 PM  

What a great light to shine today.

Yesterday we just put to rest the 6th police officer killed in the line of duty in the last 3 months in our area.

It is unbelievable the sacrifices police officers and their families make for us.

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