BENTON - In 1986, Daniel Gleason, a Philadelphia police officer, was killed in a car accident in the line of duty. A car accident also took the life of his widow, Pam, two years later.
Several years ago Mrs. Gleason's mother, Dolly Craig, wrote a note to the Concerns of Police Survivors Inc. (COPS), a national grief support organization, explaining she was going to place two blue lights in her living room window that particular holiday.
"One is for Dan and the other is for Pam, who believed so much in the COPS organization," wrote Craig, now deceased.
Today, her idea has become a nationwide program, touching the hearts of the nearly 10,000 families in the COPS organization.
The non-profit project encourages people to place a blue light or blue ribbon in their window or decorate the Christmas tree in blue as a tribute to law enforcement personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty.
Additionally, the effort is a show of support for those who continue to work the streets 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
And this holiday season the Scott County Sheriff's Department asks that residents support the effort by including a blue light in their own holiday decorations.
The Sheriff's Department is doing its part by decorating the blue spruce tree at the office in blue lights this year.
"We will be showing our support for the officers and their families by joining with hundreds of others who remember those officers who have given their lives for those they swore to protect," Sheriff Bill Ferrell wrote in a press release.
COPS, comprised of over 11,500 surviving families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, provides resources to help surviving families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty rebuild their lives.
COPS also provides training to law enforcement agencies on survivor victimization issues and educates the public of the need to support the law enforcement profession and its survivors.
In 2001, according to the COPS website, a law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty every 39 hours.
COPS was organized in 1984 with 110 members. Today COPS' membership is over 11,000 families made up of spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others and affected co-workers of officers killed in the line of duty according to Federal government criteria.
COPS is governed by a National Board of law enforcement survivors and all programs and services are administered by the national office in Camdenton, Mo. Chapters function in several states at the grass-roots level.
"A survivor's level of distress is directly affected by the agency's response to the tragedy," read Ferrell's press release. "COPS, 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."