Meeting the survivors of officer’s who have died in the line of duty is a privilege. Speaking to loved one’s and hearing their story is sobering, yet it inspires me to move forward in faith to all who will listen.

I had the opportunity to join Glendale Police Sergeant Jeff Daukas and Pastor Mark Martin as guest speakers at the Never Alone Conference in Phoenix over the weekend. Hannah Ellis and her friend, Nick, performed her stirring song, Officer Down, the same one performed last year in Washington D.C. during National Police Week.

It was a delight to meet them, but more importantly, hear the back-story to the song. As we exchanged tales over dinner, I learned her late cousin, Senior Patrol Officer Daniel Ellis, inspired the tune. He died two days after being shot while attempting to apprehend an armed robbery suspect in Richmond, Kentucky a year ago. As you can imagine, the song is far more than words to Hannah. It is a photo album celebrating the life, and tragic death, of her loving cousin, and is written from the perspective of his wife, Katie.

The song resonates with each person in the business of law enforcement, since we all have our personal “Officer Down” stories. And we emotionally go there when Hannah sings to us.

I also met Mark and Diane Corder, parents of Motor Officer Jordan Corder. Jordan was thrown from his police motorcycle after a small SUV attempted to make a left turn in front of him, causing a head-on collision. The accident took a hero from the streets of Covina, California a little over two years ago.

Mark, who retired from the Covina Police Department himself, and Diane spoke with resolve and certainty about their obligation to reach out to other survivors and offer hope.

Left to right: Dan & Rosanna Elting with Diane & Mark Corder Photo Courtesy Dan Elting

Left to right: Dan & Rosanna Elting with Diane & Mark Corder
Photo Courtesy Dan Elting

Phoenix Police Department retiree Dan Elting and his wife, Rosanna, were inspired to create the conference. They met the Corder’s in the airport in Chicago on the way to Police Week. Then within days of returning home, Officer David Glasser was shot and killed responding to a burglary in progress. His death hit the Elting’s hard because they just attended Police Week, and Glasser worked at Dan’s agency.

Speaking with Diane Corder, she mercifully shared her thoughts about the survivors of Officer Glasser, and her desire to do something special for them.

As I participated in the conference, and took in the connections being made, I couldn’t help but think about the web being created by survivors reaching out to support the family in blue that had lost a loved one serving humanity. And I was honored to join arms and exchange hugs as we seek to insert another link in the chain of good will—serving with a purpose greater than our individual effort. Never Alone was designed to minister to all members of the law enforcement family, but the Survivors Sequel had the greatest impact on me.

– Jim McNeff