The law enforcement profession is a very rewarding field to work in but it is also a very dangerous line of work. Although we are fortunate here at the Madison Police Department that overall our city is a safe place to live and work, the men and women that sign up for this profession in our city and across the country are putting their lives on the line every day that they go to work so that the members of our community can be safe. Unfortunately there are many law enforcement officers across the country that do not make it home at the end of their work day due to being killed in the line of duty. The Madison Police Department supports these officers, their department and their surviving family members as they go through the very difficult loss process and the process to rebuild their lives. One of the ways that the Madison Police Department shows their support in these situations is the Law Enforcement United bicycle ride and I would like to share with you our involvement in this very special event.
There are eight members of the Madison Police Department, one family member and one member of the Division of Criminal Investigation that are participating in the Law Enforcement United bicycle ride to start Law Enforcement Week in May 2014. Six Madison Police Officers will be riding their bicycles and the other 4 members of the team will be providing support. Each year hundreds of officers from all over the country meet in Virginia and Pennsylvania on May 10th to ride 250 miles to Washington D.C. They ride to raise awareness and to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty and to provide support for the surviving family members. Each officer personally chooses a fallen officer to dedicate their ride to. They wear a bracelet with the officer's name, badge number, department and their end of watch date on it. The bracelet is then given to the surviving family members. During stops on the ride officers are greeted by surviving family members. They form a circle around the families as a summary is read on how the officer was killed. This year a group of 60 riders, including 3 members from Team Madison Police, will start in Boston and ride an additional 750 miles to also honor the officers and victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. They will be leaving Boston on May 1st, riding through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania where they will meet up with the other officers before riding into Washington D.C. on May 12th.
Law Enforcement United works in partnership with the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) and the Officer Down Memorial Page to help honor the officers while supporting the family members as they rebuild their lives after their loved one was taken from them. COPS is comprised of the families of officers killed in the line of duty and currently has over 30,000 families in its membership. COPS sponsors several programs to help the families through their crisis including Kids Camp in Wisconsin. Kids Camp provides a surviving family member and children (ages 6-14) the opportunity to work with professional counselors and trained mentors to improve communications within the family unit and resolve grief issues together. There is also some friendly competition during planned activities that encourages teambuilding and creates an atmosphere that helps families recognize that the teamwork approach will help them cope with their grief. Several members of the Madison Police Department volunteer to help with activities at the camp and in turn develop lifelong relationships with these families.
The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) is dedicated to remembering all of the officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. The ODMP web page sends out an email alert when an officer dies in the line of duty. They keep a running history of officers and K9's killed in the line of duty which includes a summary of the details of each officer's incident and millions of comments posted to honor the officer and support the families. This is a place families, friends and co-workers can go to read and post comments while remembering their fallen officers. They also share information including when a person is up for parole for killing a police officer.
There is a fundraiser to support COPS and ODMP at Buffalo Wild Wings in Monona on Nov 11th from 11am-10pm where 10% of all food sales will be donated to COPS and the ODMP through Team Madison Police and Law Enforcement United.
If you would like more information regarding these causes and events please visit us on our web page www.teammadisonpolice.com or at our Facebook page "Team Madison Police". You can also visit Law Enforcement United at www.lawenforcementunited.org, the Officer Down Memorial Page at www.odmp.org and the concerns of police survivors at www.nationalcops.org.
I am proud that the Madison Police Department is involved in supporting this event. I wish them all the best of luck not only on their bike ride but their overall mission of remembering those who lost their lives in the line of duty and providing on-going support to their surviving family.