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Better not Bitter: The Story of Concerns of Police Survivors

NCJ Number
Connie Clark
Date Published
113 pages
With a focus on the services, education, and guidance provided by the nationwide organization entitled, "Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc." (COPS), this booklet addresses a line-of-duty death of a police officer, with attention to the needs and responsibilities of the deceased officer's family, coworkers, and department.
The introduction is written by a co-founder of COPS, which was created at the 1984 National Police Survivors' Seminar. The introduction briefly describes the work of COPS, which includes the creation of publications that address the needs of surviving families in line-of-duty officer deaths; the provision of seminars; counseling; and a resource for agencies, their personnel, and survivor families. The first chapter focuses on department notification of the death to the officer's family. Appropriate and inappropriate actions related to how and when the family is notified are discussed. The second chapter considers the common features of the grief and reactions of family members as they absorb and cope with the reality of the sudden death of the officer. The third chapter presents an analysis of how various family members - including the officer's spouse and children of different developmental ages, the officer's parents and siblings, and in-laws - typically deal with the death, as well as the appropriate support services for them. The fourth chapter examines the surviving victims' experience of the criminal justice system's processing of the alleged killer. This chapter is followed by one that considers the services and guidance needed for those coping with the death during the rebuilding stage. The remaining four chapters focus on the deceased officer's partner's coping with the death; differences in appropriate responses for a line-of-duty officer death due to an accident, the challenge for survivors as they continue their responsibilities in work and family, and how COPS seminars can facilitate healing.