Children of Fallen Police Officers Remembered on Christmas
by Jim Kouri
In 1990, National Association of Chiefs of Police treasurer, Debbi Chitwood, suggested that a program be put into place where age-appropriate new gifts be selected, wrapped and sent to survivor children at Christmas time and at the time of each child's birthday in honor of their mother or father who was killed in the line of duty.
Volunteering time on her weekends, a special computer program was devised by the American Police Hall of Fame archival records director to keep track of the ages and birthdays of the children.
Within a decade, the program has grown from a concept to a reality where the kids look forward to their gifts from the American Police Hall of Fame and write notes of thanks back which are shared with members, donors and friends.
Last year alone 833 survivor children were sent Christmas or holiday gifts and in recent years NACOP has added the names of children of disabled and paralyzed officers with the assistance of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. This is a program that warms the hearts of the kids, concerned citizens, and staff alike who have already begun to send out gifts for the 2005 Christmas season.
Sadly, a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty on an average of one every three days. The Chiefs of Police Association, an organization with over 14,000 members, ensures that families of police officers who pay the ultimate sacrifice during the 2005 holiday season are also included so that no child is forgotten. The Association and the American Police Hall of Fame, based in Titusville, Florida (Orlando area), also send a special holiday ornament to every family survivor's home.
NACOP depends on local police chiefs, sheriffs or survivors themselves to keep the database current to ensure that the gifts are age and sex appropriate. Letters and e-mail are received from grateful children and parents who say the National Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Police Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by NACOP, are the only police organizations that remember the sons and daughters of fallen or injured police officers.
The National Association of Chiefs of Police, the American Federation of Police and the Police Hall of Fame also sponsor a college scholarship program for these kids who've suffered the loss of their parent.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.