Support groups help families of fallen officers find comfort

The threads of that community come from the police themselves, and often, from volunteers. They're tested after a shooting like this.

SEATTLE, Wash. -- The reminder dangles from Brenda Donner's desk.  A tiny replica of her father's police badge.  Fifty years ago, while chasing a known felon, he died in a car crash.

"The term 'get over it' is ludicrous," said Donner, "You don't get over it.  You get through it."

Donner is now national president of Concerns of Police Survivors, or COPS, which gives long-term support to families of officers who lose their lives.

"People join, for lack of a better term, when they lose their officer," explained Donner, "You don't pay a membership fee.  You don't renew every year.  You lost your officer, you're a part of COPS."

Wednesday in Tacoma, membership went up again. Tacoma police officer Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez was shot and killed responding to a domestic violence call.

"For me, chills. Just chills and you start shivering," said Donner, describing her reaction to the death. "You know there's going to be people joining us again."

COPS helps provide long-term support and help to families and friends left behind by officer deaths on the job.

"For some reason, it's a magnet," said Donner. So the spotlight is on the family members.

"Everybody's going to come right away," she continued, "But two weeks from now, when everyone's gone and the cameras go away, and Officer Gutierrez is buried, now what?  That's the support we offer."

Copyright 2016 KING


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