Remembering the Fallen, Serving the Survivors
On July 7, 2016, a lone sniper in a downtown Dallas parking garage opened fire on Dallas police officers, who were monitoring a peaceful protest regarding the recent police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana. The gunman killed five officers before police killed him.
Meanwhile, across town, Ashlee Hardy, president of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Chapter of C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors), was setting up for a private memorial gathering at her home, commemorating the ninth anniversary of her husband Wes's death. Wes Hardy, a motor officer for the Plano P.D., was killed on July 7, 2007, while pursuing a speeding driver. Another driver accidently pulled into his lane, killing officer Hardy as he sped by on his motorcycle.
"Moments after the shots were fired in Dallas, my phone began ringing off the hook," Ashlee said. "First, it was my office, then Clint McNear of the TMPA, then Frederick Frazier of the Dallas Police Association. Before I could think about it, I was on my way to Parkland Hospital to meet with the family members of the fallen officers."
Metroplex C.O.P.S., as the name implies, helps rebuild the lives of survivors and co-workers affected by line-of-duty deaths, through partnerships with law enforcement and the community. Ashlee's immediate mission at Parkland was to offer prayers, encouragement and support to the family members. However, beyond the initial meeting, C.O.P.S. would continue to stay involved, offering peer support, survivor counseling, financial services and other benefits as long as the survivors had a need.
TMPA is one of our main partners in this mission," Ashlee said. "We've worked closely with them over the years on many cases, most notably to establish an annual police memorial service on the state capital grounds in Austin, Texas."
Until 2016, the Texas Peace Officers' Memorial Ceremony, honoring fallen officers and their surviving family members, only occurred every other year. The TMPA began lobbying for the ceremony to occur every year, so that family members who lost a loved one immediately following a bi-annual event, could experience some level of closure, without having to wait nearly two full years. Starting April 30, 2017, Texas will honor its fallen officers annually.