INDIANAPOLIS -- A group brought together by tragedies of their own is playing an important role this week to help the family of a central Indiana officer killed in the line of duty.
Concerns of Police Survivors has been helping the family of Southport Police Lt. Aaron Allan since their deaths last Thursday.
C.O.P.S. members provide support for the widows of police officers killed in the line of and their families by helping with everything from filing for survivor’s benefits and funeral arrangements to adjusting to life after a loved one’s death.
Group members talk to the survivors, accompany them to court hearings and allow widows and other family members to connect with other survivors.
Cynthia Wizenread, President of the Indiana chapter, has worked with Lt. Allan’s widow, Stacy.
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“She is a very positive person,” said Cynthia Winzenread, President of the Indiana Chapter of C.O.P.S. “I think that has guided her through a lot of it because she hasn’t turned on a lot of the media and she hasn’t turned on a lot of the negativity.”
Wizenread said Lt. Allan's family is now part of a much bigger family that they can lean on for support as they move past saying goodbye and to whatever comes next.
“They’re now part of a family, Indiana C.O.P.S., that they didn’t ask for that they didn’t want to be a part of,” said Wizenread. “But could not imagine your life without.”
Wizenread’s husband, Indiana State Trooper Andrew Winzenread, was killed in April 1997 when he was struck by a truck driver while helping a woman get gas.
In the 20 years since her husband was killed, Cynthia said she’s discovered that her pain has a purpose and she hopes that by being there for the families of Lt. Allan and Deputy Chief Waters they can help ease some of the burdens they are left to carry.
“We’re there for emotional support,” said Cynthia. “The fact that this person has gone through it and they’re standing up and they’re giving back. They’re helping.”
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National C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members, growing to more than 15,000 families as members over the years. Members include spouses, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, “significant others” and affected co-workers of officers who have died in the line of duty, according to federal government criteria. C.O.P.S. is governed by a national board of law enforcement survivors, and the national office in Camdenton, Missouri, administers its programs and services. In addition to National Police Week activities, COPS holds annual retreats or programs that offer various activities and counseling services for all survivor groups.