COPS: Riding for a Camp of Compassion
For one group of children, death is what brings them to camp.
At COPS Camp, for one spectacular week, for the briefest of moments, these kids get to be like everyone else. But they’re not. They are the children of the bravest of us – children who lost a parent who was a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
COPS – Concerns of Police Survivors – was founded in 1984 and has evolved into a national organization that offers resources to family members and co-workers of law enforcement officers who are killed in the line of duty. One of those resources is summer camp in East Troy, Wisconsin.
On June 5, we helped keep that camp in business. We, meaning I and at least 500 others. More than 300 motorcycles, led by a multi-agency police motorcycle escort, rode from the House of Harley-Davidson in Greenfield to Lake Geneva to raise money for COPS. We rode to remember the fallen and to help their children have a camp experience that comes with all the traditional camp activities, with a few additions like the opportunity to speak with psychologists about their feelings of loss and the chance to interact with other kids with the same emotions. Being around 500-plus people who support the police is my great happiness.
Having spent more than 10 years in law enforcement – and another 26 years as a reporter writing about it – I think a lot about the police. At AFFIRM, I think of ways to help criminal justice professionals to tell their story because I believe that when people have more information about law enforcement, they have a better understanding of what their tax dollars fund when it comes to public safety.
It is a deadly year so far for my brothers and sisters in blue – as of June 6, we have lost 41 officers in this country in the line of duty – two just this week.
As we celebrate Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Every Day, we can’t forget those who have given their lives on our city streets. We must not forget the families they leave behind. And we shall not forget that the loss belongs to us all.