VOL. 123 | NO. 155 | Friday, August 8, 2008
Gregory Leads, Serves Family Members of Fallen Officers
By Rosalind Guy
Title: Southern Seaboard Region Trustee
Company: Concerns of Police Survivors Inc.
Basics: Gregory has been involved in the organization, which provides support to families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty as well as honors those officers who continue to serve their community.
“When an officer is killed in the line of duty, there is disruption in the family.”
– Linda Moon Gregory
When Linda Moon Gregory’s brother, who was a sheriff with the Jacksonville, Fla., Sheriff’s office, was killed in the line of duty in 1971, her family didn’t have the support of an organization that could help them deal with their grief.
But about six years ago, Gregory’s mother, Bessie Moon, was contacted by the Jacksonville chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors Inc. (C.O.P.S.) and invited to participate in some of their activities.
“She called me very excited about what they had to offer family members,” Gregory said. “I wanted to be a part of it. So I started making telephone calls to find out if there was a chapter located in West Tennessee.”
After finding there was in fact a West Tennessee chapter, Gregory became involved with the organization.
Gregory recently was elected trustee of the West Tennessee chapter. She previously served as president of the local chapter, a position she held for four years.
Honoring those who serve
During her presidency, Gregory led the local chapter in establishing the Walk for C.O.P.S., the Blue Light Campaign and the Fly the Blue campaign.
The Blue Light campaign is held every year during the Christmas season. People are asked to place a blue light in their car windows in memory of fallen officers, and also to let those officers currently serving know that their daily sacrifice is appreciated.
The Fly the Blue campaign is similar to the light campaign, but people display a blue ribbon instead of a light.
Members of C.O.P.S. contact families of deceased officers after the respective funeral services and other activities have passed, a time when families are starting to grasp just how much the wide chasm of loss will change their lives.
“We contact the family shortly after the death of an officer,” Gregory said. “That’s when we find that the family has to learn to readjust their lives. And we go in and help them file for their benefits; there’s a lot of paperwork that has to be done for that.”
Members of the local chapter also accompany family members of officers who died by homicide in the line of duty to trials and hearings. They help with parole issues, whether that be attending hearings or starting a writing campaign to send letters to the parole board requesting that parole of the killer be denied.
The organization also provides scholarship assistance to family members of the deceased so they can attend conferences that deal with issues arising from the loss of a loved one.
Returning the favor
Gregory and her family have been able to get assistance from the organization when the man who killed her brother came up for parole, which was as recent as last year.
Shortly after finding out about the organization, Gregory attended a seminar where she learned she could be contacted every time there was a parole hearing for the man who shot her brother.
“The first year I got involved in C.O.P.S., I found out that this man had just come up for parole,” she said. “Fortunately, it was not granted. But five years later he came up for parole again and we were fortunate enough to be notified. We had letters written from members of C.O.P.S. all over the country to request that the parole be denied and it was denied.”
Gregory knows that for the families who are helped through the organization, that there’s no point where they can get over the loss.
“When an officer is killed in the line of duty, there is disruption in the family,” she said. “The common bond that is between in-laws and the spouse is often removed and that’s the officer. And then a lot of times there’s some family issues that have to be dealt with and people don’t know how to do that. They don’t understand all the issues that are coming up that they will have to address.”
That’s why Gregory said she will continue to be active in the organization. It’s also why she will continue to lobby to keep federal funding in place for the organization.
“There have been a lot of budget cuts at the national level,” Gregory said. “And C.O.P.S. has been affected by that. We have been out in the community trying to approach some of our community leaders to try to get support for the activities so that we can continue to send family members to these conferences so they can continue with the healing process.”