|Concerns of Police Survivors Offers Affected Co-Workers Retreat November 4-7, 2011|
COPS' first retreat to address the needs of affected co-workers was held last year, October 1-4, 2010. The event ushered in a new era for Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.). For the first time in the history of the organization, C.O.P.S. offered law enforcement co-workers affected by a line-of-duty death the opportunity to attend a hands-on retreat to address the trauma and grief they are experiencing because of their loss.
Erin Barnett, the C.O.P.S. Program Planner, didn't know what to expect as the registration forms and brochures were sent out. "For our very first Affected Co-Workers Retreat, we were expecting maybe 20-25 participants to register," said Erin. "When we ended up with 42 men and women at the retreat, we knew we were offering a much-needed program."
The participants came from all over the country, and from a wide variety of positions within their departments. Dispatchers, commanders, officers.....the ranks were all pretty much represented. "The one common element with everyone in attendance was that our lives had been touched by tragedy-the line-of-duty death of an officer," said a co-worker from Kentucky who attended the event. "Whether it was felonious or accidental, it did not matter. Lives had been changed by the loss of a co-worker, a friend, a part of the family."
In 2011, the Affected Co-Workers retreat will be held November 4-7 in Potosi, Missouri at YMCA Trout Lodge. Attendance is kept confidential; the names of those participating are not released to anyone, not even to their agency. Many officers may be concerned that attending a retreat addressing their trauma and grief might make their co-workers or commanders question their emotional stability. Because of this, C.O.P.S. believes it is critical that all attendees know they can attend with complete confidence that no one will be aware they are participating in the Affected Co-Workers retreat unless they want them to know.
"Being with people that had been through that same feeling of helplessness, had those same thoughts of "Why not me?", "What if it had been me?", and understood the "would of," "could of," "should of"...... it was truly different," said the Kentucky co-worker. "Not to say that all of the troubles of the world have been lifted, but I now look forward to a new normal that makes my incident a part of me, but does not define me."
Attendance at the Affected Co-Workers Retreat, as well as all the other survivor retreats offered throughout the year by C.O.P.S., is free of charge. The price paid is already too high.