Monday, February 15th, 2010 by

Family Support Groups for Law Enforcement Agencies

It’s tough being married to a police officer or even being the parent or sibling of a law enforcement officer. There is fear and worry about what might happen to them. There are the moments every time you hear something about a police shooting or an accident involving a police car on the news and you don’t know if it’s your loved one or not. And there are just the everyday issues of dealing with someone who works nights, odd shifts or gets called into work on their time off. Then there is the issue of stress. Some cops share their stresses which can make their loved ones worry more; and some officers shut out their loved ones, and won’t talk about what’s eating at them, which also causes stress in their relationships. The good news is that all around the world there are groups and people starting groups to help these family members cope with these and many other issues. The other day I had a chance to interview two people who are working to do just that for their law enforcement agency…

It was my pleasure to interview Heidi Hansen and Michael Mejia. Michael is an officer with the Twin Cities Police Authority which is a combined department of the communities of Corte Madera and Larkspur California, and Heidi works at a local hospital. I met Heidi through the National Police Wives Association (NPWA) where she was on the board of directors until just recently. Michael and Heidi are living together and raising a child together and both are attending college full time while working full time as well. In addition to all of that, they are working to form a Family Group at the Twin Cities Police Authority to help support family members of the law enforcement agency.

Heidi connected with me after I interviewed Linda another police wife and also a board member of NPWA. Heidi and Michael have been together for the past five years and are currently starting a family group for his police department. They recognized a need to connect and support family members within their agency and they are also working together on a book for Public Safety Families to help them understand and navigate life inside the law enforcement family itself.

This all ties into their future aspirations as Michael hopes to get at least his Master’s in Psychology, if not a full doctorate and Heidi is working on a double major, hoping to graduate in Biology and Psychology, then to go on to Medical school. They told me that their main goal is to use their degrees to help other Law Enforcement families any way that we can.

I encourage you to listen to our interview and expect that you will find them as geniune and engaging as I did. They are two truly great people doing great things with the thought of helping others in law enforcement. Bravo!

If you would like to listen to our interview please click the replay button below or RIGHT CLICK HERE to download (that’s CONTROL CLICK if you use a Mac then SAVE LINK AS…) a copy of the mp3 file.

You can contact Michael and Heidi here.

Just click below to open your email program.

CLICK HERE to email Michael

CLICK HERE to email Heid

Heidi also connected me to Lori and Dave Barron in Indiana who were helpful in providing SOP’s and other information to get Michael and Heidi started with the creation of their family support group.

Lori’s husband Dave has been on the Evansville Indiana Police Department for 18 years.  In 2003 he was involved in an officer involved shooting which resulted in the death of the criminal.  Shortly after that time he and another officer developed the peer support team for Evansville and about 3 years ago Lori co-developed the family support team with Emily Sandullo, another police wife.  At that time their department had no support for the families of their officers. Now if an officer is involved in a critical incident, their family support group members are called out too to be with the family. Lori told me that they are also talking with the new recruits and their families about their experiences as family members of police officers and that the support group is there for them if needed.  Lori heads up a group that meets quarterly and currently it includes wives and mothers of police officers.  Lori also said it has been her desire to help other departments see the importance of these programs and help set them up.  We at CopsAlive will follow up with the Evansville programs in another post and describe how to set up a new program.

Here are some links to and stories about other family support groups found on the internet:

Raleigh Police Family Support Group Lends Hand To Wake County
After The Wake County Sheriff’s Office lost three deputies in a few months. The deaths left the sheriff’s office and its families grieving. The Raleigh Police Department Family Support Group stepped in to lend a helping hand.

The Los Angeles Police Department Family Support Group was founded in 1983 following the death of Police Officer Paul Verna, who was killed while on active duty under the command of Chief Daryl F. Gates.

Chief Gates, after meeting with Detective Wraydine Mercer and Sandy Verna realized the need for a support group comprised of women with one main thing in common…GRIEF. Despite their varying backgrounds, the women of the Family Support Group transcend differences to support one another through the grieving process

The Los Angeles Police Department Family Support is made up of women who have become members not of their own choice but because of the loss of the one we loved most.

The Family Support Group is filled with wonderful women who rejoice in each other’s successes and growth but also hold and nurture each other through their most dire of times. Not too many people can say they know how you feel and really know how you feel.  They do.

Some of the group have been widows for many years and some only a few or less than a year, some remarried, some not. But they all have something in common and no one can take that away, this is why they’ve grown so close to each other, respect each other and accept each other.
Visit: http://lapdfsg.org/

In addition to NPWA there is also the PoliceWives.Org established in 2002 for the support of LEO’s and their families. They are a unique group consisting of women & men from all walks of life, who share a common bond of having a loved one in Law Enforcement.

CLICK HERE for an Interesting article on death in a police family and it’s support network
from http://www.realpolice.net/articles/police-stress/death-in-the-police-family.html

CLICK HERE for another good article from a police wife’s perspective
from http://www.heavybadge.com/wives.htm

CLICK HERE for an Interesting article on the effects of stress on cop’s kids
from http://www.heavybadge.com/kidstres.htm

CLICK HERE for some brief information on the 617th Military Police Family Support Group from

http://www.wbko.com/news/headlines/1704457.html

Maybe we can all learn from what all of these people are doing and maybe you could start a similar group at your agency.

CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence.

We do this by Helping Law Enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond. We think the best strategy is for each officer to create a tactical plan for their own life and career.

5 Comments

  • […] Police Authority in California. They have also started similar programs and you can listen to our CopsAlive.com Interview with them and find other Law Enforcement Family Support Group Links in that article at: […]

  • thank you for this interview. I am having a really hard time with my husband’s constant changing shifts and days off. It has been in excess for 6 months now and won’t be any better for at least another 3. It is very saddening when you have 2 children and a busy lifestyle. This helped to hear that I am not crazy and others deal with similar instances.

  • Hi Amber,

    Thanks for your comment. Shift work is very difficult for law enforcement officers and their families alike. As challenging as it is for the officers and the agency, police work necessitates 24 hour coverage. At least family members can get support from each other if you have a family program within your agency. If you don’t the people at the Law Enforcement Family Support Network have some great resources to get you started.
    Visit: http://www.lawenforcementfamilysupport.org/
    Good luck!

  • We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our
    community. Your web site provided us with valuable information
    to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and
    our whole community will be grateful to you.

  • Arian,
    Thank you for your kind comments. Please let us know if we can do anything to help your group.

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