Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.)
C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members. Today C.O.P.S. membership is over 30,000 families. Members include spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, and affected co-workers of officers killed in the line of duty according to Federal government criteria. C.O.P.S. is governed by a National Board of law enforcement survivors. All programs and services are administered by the National Office in Camdenton, Missouri. C.O.P.S. has over 50 Chapters nationwide that work with survivors at the grass-roots level.
C.O.P.S. programs for survivors include the National Police Survivors' Conference held each May during National Police Week, scholarships, peer-support at the national, state, and local levels, "C.O.P.S. Kids" counseling reimbursement program, the "C.O.P.S. Kids" Summer Camp, "C.O.P.S. Teens" Outward Bound experience for young adults, special retreats for spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, in-laws, and co-workers, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.
C.O.P.S. knows that a survivor's level of distress is directly affected by the agency's response to the tragedy. C.O.P.S., therefore, offers training and assistance to law enforcement agencies nationwide on how to respond to the tragic loss of a member of the law enforcement profession. C.O.P.S. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. C.O.P.S. programs and services are funded by grants and donations. Law Enforcement agencies and organizations who support C.O.P.S. at the $250 level or above will be identified as “Partners in Law Enforcement” with C.O.P.S. and will be included on a “Partners” banner that will be displayed at National Police Week.
C.O.P.S. Welcomes New Executive Director
Observing its 30th anniversary of service to the surviving families of America’s fallen law enforcement officers on May 14, 2014, Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) welcomes a new Executive Director who will take the reins to lead the organization that represents more than 32,000 survivors of officers who have died in the line of duty
Deputy Chief Dianne Bernhard of the Columbia, MO, Police Department is retiring after 21 years of service to become the new Executive Director of C.O.P.S. in March 2014. Deputy Chief Bernhard is most proud of her work as a patrol officer, creating a camp for kids, a Crisis Intervention Team, a leadership academy, and restructuring and managing a $19 million budget. She was also a member of the Columbia Police Mounted Team and came to know C.O.P.S. through the line-of-duty death of a co-worker, Officer Molly Bowden, in 2005. She has been aware of the great care that C.O.P.S. gave to the officer’s family ever since Bowden’s death.
Bernhard says, “The relationships I have built with officers from around the country and citizens of my community are important to me and I look forward to creating new relationships through the C.O.P.S. organization. I am honored to be part of this exceptional organization that has rebuilt the shattered lives of so many law enforcement survivors all across the country.”
With Bernhard being offered the position at the February 8, 2014, National C.O.P.S. Board Meeting held in Osage Beach, MO, C.O.P.S. National President Madeline Neumann said, “The National Board is really excited to welcome Dianne Bernhard into our organization. She is a proven leader with exceptional skills and a true understanding of law enforcement and law enforcement survivors. The Board is looking forward to working with her as she continues to move the C.O.P.S. mission into the future!”
The C.O.P.S. organization is headquartered in Camdenton, MO. Suzie Sawyer, a 20-year Camdenton resident, founded C.O.P.S. in 1984 in the basement of her home in Maryland. C.O.P.S. moved to Camdenton in 1993 after her husband retired from the Prince George’s County, MD, Police Department. Sawyer, who retired from C.O.P.S. in 2011, returned last May to serve as Acting Executive Director for one year until a national search could be conducted for a new lead employee for the organization.
Sawyer said, “In reality, I am turning over my life’s work, C.O.P.S., over to Dianne Bernhard. Yet, I’m confident Dianne will take C.O.P.S. to a new level, building on a strong foundation that came from years of input from many who have experienced the worst tragedy within law enforcement…the surviving families. It has been an honor for me to have served C.O.P.S. for all these years and I will do whatever I can to ensure that C.O.P.S., under Dianne Bernhard’s strong leadership, will continue to bring healing, love and life renewed to America’s law enforcement survivors. To Dianne Bernhard, I said, ‘Take care of my baby!’ and her response was simply, ‘I will.’”