The Other Side of Police Week
Every year officers from all around the country and world make a pilgrimage to Washington, DC for National Police Week. It’s the one time of year we honor fallen LEOs and their families. There’s a multitude of ceremonies and celebrations during the week. Who doesn’t have a Tent City story?
How many have attended police week without the misfortunate of losing an officer to a line of duty death, yet still chose to visit the Mark Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia? It hosts families of the fallen. If you haven’t then you’re missing out on another side of police week. It may not be a side you’re truly ready for. Moreover, it’s a hard dose of reality regarding the purpose of the event.
Every day at the host hotel you’ll see and feel the raw emotions floating heavily through the air. The grieving spouses, the shattered parents, the siblings and friends sitting around emotionally connecting with others who are there for the first time to honor their fallen officers.
Among all of these adults are children. Some too young to truly be aware of the sad significance of their loss. Then you see the older children and teenagers who are all too aware of their loss of a loved one.
It is here Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S) diligently works to bring some sort of relief to the grieving families. Support Services are on hand to help the hurting.
You’ll see other families who have lost a LEO in the past. They are returning to police week to seek further assistance and to help guide the newer families who have unfortunately joined a club none of them wished to be part of.
Every year police week becomes a reunion of the wounded hearts. They know for this week there will be others who understand what they have experienced without judgment, but rather rejoice in remembering their dearly departed. Some family members are more than willing to tell stories about their LEO.
There are light-hearted moments at the hotel. The kids love to collect patches and pins for their name tags. So make sure you stock up and bring them to the host hotel. There’s a C.O.P.S. Store inside to purchase plenty of swag plus it goes to an outstanding cause.
So in the future, if you plan to return to Police Week, please make an effort to visit the host hotel. You’ll never forget the experience. You’ll never forget the up close images of those who come to mourn a loss. You’ll be a part of the cause reminding the families you’re there to let them know you’ll never forget their LEOs or the loved ones … ever!
Cathy and Javier Bustos are law enforcement officers in Central Texas. As “That Peer Support Couple” they are strong peer support advocates speaking about surviving critical incidents and marriage. They can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook.
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Additional articles from Cathy and Javier Bustos:
Their personal encounter during an on-duty shooting is also chronicled in “Officer Involved.”