Condolences Are In Order

As a police officer’s kid, I had a very personal relationship with law enforcement. My father went from the Marines to the police departments of several major cities before he decided we would all be better off in a small town. We moved to Belleair, Fla., and my dad joined a local police force. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and served with pride and distinction as he helped keep our tightknit community safe.

Unfortunately, no police officer serves without risking his or her life. We were all reminded of this when Officer Jeffery Warren Tackett, a 28-year-old member of the Belleair Police Department, was shot and killed in the line of duty on June 13, 1993.

We knew Officer Tackett. Several months after the funeral, I asked another officer how Tackett’s young widow and his family were doing. He was embarrassed. This officer — one of the nicest and most caring members of the department — wanted to visit. But he always hesitated. He didn’t want to be reminded of what could happen to him, nor did his own family. He resolved to check in on her soon.

I was surprised at his response, but I understood. And I was reminded of that conversation recently, when I learned about an organization called COPS, for Concerns of Police Survivors, after sponsoring November’s third annual Krawl’n for the Fallen.

I connected with the president of the West Central Florida chapter, Cindy Roberts, to inquire about making a donation. Cindy is herself a survivor, having lost her husband, Corporal Michael Roberts, in the line of duty on August 19, 2009. She filled me in on what a wonderful organization COPS is and the continuing outreach, support and counseling they offer to grieving families.

You may already know that the magazine is sponsoring the purchase and buildout of an off-road-ready 2005 Jeep Wrangler, which will be raffled off at Jeep vs. Harley in October. Well, we decided to double down. In January, we purchased a 2003 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy with less than 15,000 miles on the odometer. It’s a beautiful bike, and it will join our Wrangler as a raffle prize, with the proceeds to benefit our local chapter of COPS.

Joining the Central Florida Jeepin’ community means tapping into a reservoir of charitable giving many of us didn’t even know we had. The time, money and resources donated by Jeep groups is incalculable. We are happy to do our part, and we can’t wait to see you in October.

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