Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss. Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) provides resources to help them rebuild their shattered lives. There is no membership fee to join C.O.P.S., for the price paid is already too high.
C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members. Today over 30,000 families are active members. The group include spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, and affected co-workers of officers killed in the line of duty.
C.O.P.S. is governed by a National Board of law enforcement survivors. All programs and services are administered by the National Office in Camdenton, Missouri. C.O.P.S. has over 50 Chapters nationwide that work with survivors at the grass-roots level.
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, in-laws, and co-workers, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.
C.O.P.S. knows that a survivor’s level of distress is directly affected by the agency’s response to the tragedy. C.O.P.S., therefore, offers training and assistance to law enforcement agencies nationwide on how to respond to the tragic loss of a member of the law enforcement profession. C.O.P.S. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. C.O.P.S. programs and services are funded by grants and donations.
Law Enforcement agencies and organizations who support C.O.P.S. at the $250 level or above will be identified as “Partners in Law Enforcement” with C.O.P.S. and will be included on a “Partners” banner that will be displayed at National Police Week.
C.O.P.S. Welcomes New Executive Director
Observing its 30th anniversary of service to the surviving families of America’s fallen law enforcement officers on May 14, 2014, Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) welcomed a new Executive Director who proudly took the reins to lead the organization that represents more than 32,000 survivors of officers who have died in the line of duty
Deputy Chief Dianne Bernhard of the Columbia, MO, Police Department retired after 21 years of service. She speaks proudly of her work as a patrol officer, creating a camp for kids, a Crisis Intervention Team, a leadership academy, and restructuring the agency and managing a $19 million dollar a year budget. She was also a member of the Columbia Police Mounted Team and came to know C.O.P.S. through the line-of-duty death of a co-worker, Officer Molly Bowden, in 2005.
Bernhard says, “The relationships I have built with officers from around the country and citizens of my community are important to me and I look forward to creating new relationships through the C.O.P.S. organization. I am honored to be part of this exceptional organization that has rebuilt the shattered lives of so many law enforcement survivors all across the country.”
The C.O.P.S. organization is headquartered in Camdenton, MO. Suzie Sawyer, a 20-year Camdenton resident, founded C.O.P.S. in 1984 in the basement of her home in Maryland. C.O.P.S. moved to Camdenton in 1993 after her husband retired from the Prince George’s County, MD, Police Department. Sawyer, who retired from C.O.P.S. in 2011, returned last May to serve as Acting Executive Director.
Sawyer said, “In reality, I am turning over my life’s work, C.O.P.S., over to Dianne Bernhard. Yet, I’m confident Dianne will take C.O.P.S. to a new level, building on a strong foundation that came from years of input from many who have experienced the worst tragedy within law enforcement…the surviving families. It has been an honor for me to have served C.O.P.S. for all these years and I will do whatever I can to ensure that C.O.P.S., under Dianne Bernhard’s strong leadership, will continue to bring healing, love and life renewed to America’s law enforcement survivors. To Dianne Bernhard, I said, ‘Take care of my baby!’ and her response was simply, ‘I will.’”