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Kyle Deatherage stands in front of his patrol car when he was an officer with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. Deatherage was killed in the line of duty in November 2012 during a traffic stop.
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Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) provides resources and programs for family, friends and co-workers coping with the loss of a fallen officer, all free of charge. The organization will host a Family Night Out fundraiser Saturday, June 4, at the East Alton Ice Arena.
On Nov. 26, 2012, loved ones of Illinois State Trooper Kyle Deatherage experienced their biggest fear.
On a routine traffic stop, he parked his motorcycle on the shoulder and was speaking to a driver when a tractor-trailer struck and killed him.
Four years later, friends, family and co-workers will gather at the East Alton Ice Arena to celebrate and honor his life while raising money to send to the national Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) organization.
Deatherage reached his “end of watch” when he was 32, leaving behind a wife and two children, his parents, a sister and two brothers. He left behind friends and comrades he had met along the way of his tours as a Madison County police officer and later an Illinois State Police trooper.
When Deatherage was a state trooper, he met a dear friend, Kyle Doolin, who’s one of three event coordinators setting up the COPS Family Night Out from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at the East Alton Ice Arena, 631 Lewis and Clark Blvd.
The two worked with each other at the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. When Deatherage moved to working for the Illinois State Police, he and Doolin were reunited in New Jersey when Illinois state troopers and police officers aided the state’s residents after Hurricane Sandy. The two rode in the same squad car every day for a week, just eight days before Deatherage was killed.
According to Doolin and people writing on his memorial page on Facebook, he was a big fan of lights and sirens ever since he was little. His brother shared how Kyle set up traffic lights in their room, and the lights blinked throughout the night. Doolin spoke of his and Deatherage’s time in New Jersey.
“The very first night we were in a convoy, all lights and sirens going on the interstate, and he’s hanging out the passenger side of my car taking pictures of the line of cars with the lights and sirens,” he said, smiling.
After the shocking loss, Doolin was among many others who used the services and programs provided by COPS, an organization that supports family, friends and co-workers coping with the loss of a fallen officer.
“I have gone to some of their programs that they’ve put on for police officers that have lost co-workers in the line of duty,” Doolin said. “This is my way of giving back to them, by putting this on and raising money for them.”
Counseling, scholarships and financial assistance make up a short list of the resources provided for survivors. Programs such as summer camps, family retreats and the annual National Police Survivors’ Conference each May during National Police Week are also provided. Deatherage’s family was sent to the police memorial in Washington, D.C., free of charge. In fact, COPS does not charge for any of its services.
According to the group’s website, nationalcops.org, 140 to 160 officers die every year in the line of duty, and since its start in 1984 more than 37,000 families have joined the organization.
“It’s a nonprofit organization that relies almost solely on donations,” Doolin said.
Doolin, his wife, Jodi; and East Alton Ice Arena skating director Katie McKeon are the event leaders of the Family Night Out. As an inaugural event, it’s hard to predict the outcome of attendance and donations, but they hope to see area police officers and their families, as it is open to the public. A COPS representative will answer questions about the organization.
The fundraiser will feature ice-skating, basket raffles, 50/50, a DJ and a game called Penalize a Friend. Admission is $5, which includes skating and skate rental charges.
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