In 1962, President John Kennedy signed a law designating May 15 as National Peace Officers' Memorial Day, and the calendar week containing that day as National Police Week.
During National Police Week, the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) hosts the National Police Survivors' Conference to provide healing in a safe environment for adult survivors. It's a place where others truly understand the day-to-day struggles of recovering from a line-of-duty death. Survivors also find that being present during the candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial as their loved one is honored helps them heal. Attending the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service also helps.
At the conference, law enforcement survivors find tremendous peer support and hear experts in the field of loss and recovery who help them cope with their grief. They can find hope for the future, following the death of their officer. The children of fallen officers also take part in programs that help them cope with the many emotions that come with losing a parent in such sudden, often violent ways. They can connect with other children who have lost their mother or father.
"The connections survivors make with other people who have been through a line-of-duty death are invaluable," says Jennifer Thacker, surviving spouse and C.O.P.S.' national director of outreach. "The connections give them a sense of hope that they'll be able to navigate through their debilitating grief. The strength they get from knowing so many people are behind them, reaching out their hands to pull them up, helps them take important steps toward rebuilding their shattered lives.
"Being part of National Police Week and the many programs C.O.P.S. provides free of charge throughout the year helped me become a living memorial to my husband, to do good things that came out of something bad," Thacker added.
For more information about the programs and services offered to survivors throughout the year or to volunteer, contact the C.O.P.S. office at (573) 346-4911.