It's Never "Just a Card": Helping MN Police Officers and Their Families
Now more than ever, it's critical for police officers and their families to know that they have the support of the community they have been called to serve. Anti-police rhetoric, a sharp increase in line of duty deaths around the nation, declining retention, lack of agency leadership support, difficulty recruiting new police officers, repeated exposure to trauma and job related injuries can be forces that make being a police officer today an uphill climb. Add in the "normal" challenges of family responsibilities like parenting, maintaining schedules, keeping healthy and it's clear that our officers need to know that we are there to throw them a lifeline.
When someone hears about our organization, they usually think of the signature blue roses that are handed out at a police officer's funeral following a line of duty death. One reason is that those events thrust the law enforcement community into the spotlight during a very emotional time. Those events are also very public. Another reason is that those beautiful blue roses are a tangible symbol of community support.
(Photo of Minnesota State Patrol members at a Trooper's funeral in 2017 taken by a BtBL member.)
But did you know that that's just one of MANY ways we honor and support our Minnesota police officers? There are so many more things that are done quietly outside the public eye to provide assistance, resources and care to officers and their immediate families in times of need. WHO DOES BACKING THE BLUE LINE HELP? Family support services are open to ALL sworn members of the Minnesota law enforcement community and their families. Our support is NOT limited to members of Backing the Blue Line.
WHEN DOES BACKING THE BLUE LINE MOBILIZE TO GIVE HELP? There are many different circumstances when BtBL will offer support or resources to a LEO or his/her immediate family member. These are some of the most common things that BtBL will mobilize resources to provide help.
When a MN Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) is injured on duty (whether the injury is big or small);
When a LEO is injured off duty or has a serious illness (for example cancer, heart attack, stroke, car accidents, etc.);
When a LEO is dealing with mental health concerns, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
When there are other events that cause injury through no fault or control of the injured LEO;
When a LEO's child is on hospice or has died;
When a LEO K-9 is injured on duty ;
When a LEO is involved in a shooting (whether they are injured or not)
When there is a line of duty death;
When there is an unexpected non-line of duty death of a currently licensed and actively serving LEO (for example heart attack, accident, suicide, etc.) ;
When a member of Backing the Blue Line (wife, fiancee, significant other, domestic partner of a MN LEO) is injured or experiencing an illness.
Even if the officer or their family does not fit into one of the levels below fill out the form at the top of the page anyways because we ALWAYS send some sort of support. Remember, "When in Doubt, Fill it Out!" If you would like to request assistance, please use the online form. Fill in as much information as you have. We will review the request and get more information to respond.
WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT DOES BACKING THE BLUE LINE PROVIDE? Depending on the situation, we may: send a handwritten card, provide gift cards, deliver a care basket tailored to the individual, organize a fundraiser, coordinate a meal train, provide refreshments/meals during critical incidents, and provide ongoing support depending on needs.
(Photo of a care basket delivered to a MN law enforcement officer in 2017, courtesy of a Blue Angel.)
How we respond is outlined in our Standard Operating Procedures. These procedures help us respond consistently and ensure that we are using our resources of donations and volunteer hours effectively and responsibly. All members of the Family Support Committee (Blue Angels) attend mandatory training each year. The result is that we have a committed, passionate and respectful base of member volunteers. It is expected that information is kept strictly confidential unless the officer or family say otherwise or the situation is public knowledge. Very often, the situations that provide support for are extremely sensitive matters. It is of the utmost importance to us that officers and their families are treated respectfully and with sensitivity to their circumstances.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SUPPORT FROM BACKING THE BLUE LINE? "I just received your note of support in the mail. Thank you very much!! it means a lot to me knowing there are people out there that care about us. I never realized you all were looking out for us." - MN Law Enforcement Officer "Thank you girls so much for sending a care package to my husband ... for his injury. That was VERY sweet!!!" - Wife of injured officer "I just wanted to say thank you for the thoughtful card and gift card after my hospital stay last week. It truly was an unexpected and wonderful gesture. This organization does an amazing job helping and offering encouragement and support to officers in MN. I'm truly grateful for all you do!" - MN Law Enforcement Officer
(A collection of thank you notes sent to Backing the Blue Line by law enforcement officers, their spouses and other family members touched by the support and help given by Backing the Blue Line. Photo by BtBL member)
BUT, WE CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT YOUR HELP! There are many ways YOU can help US help MN law enforcement officers and their families. Here are just a few specific, actionable ideas:
Be the eyes and ears for BtBL. We cannot help them unless we hear about who needs our help. Fill out the online Request Assistance form.
Like and follow our public Facebook page to stay up to date on events, volunteer opportunities and other ways to become involved in supporting MN law enforcement officers and families.
Dance the night away at the 2018 Blue Line Ball on May 19, 2018 in Minneapolis! Don't forget to mark yourself as "Going" on the Event page on Facebook to receive the latest updates. There are some really exciting announcements coming soon!
Become a Sponsor of the Blue Line Ball. Get your product/service positioned in front an audience that night of 700 MN law enforcement officers, spouses/domestic partners/significant others and law enforcement supporters. Interested? Check out the details.
Know a law enforcement officer, their wife/significant other/fiancee/domestic partner or other family member? Tell them about us and pass along our info! Share a link to our website with them.
Contact us! Tell us what you want to see us write about. Tell us about upcoming community events we should attend. Tell us how a police officer has helped YOU or your family. We love hearing those stories!
About the writer: When Jeni M. is not wrangling in her three kids, sneaking in some precious time with her husband or working on all that is Backing the Blue Line, you can find her in the midst of the woods. She is an avid outdoors woman - whether it is in a deer stand, hunting blind, out on the water or just taking a hike in the peace and tranquility of nature. She has a background in law enforcment and helping our MN law enforcement officers has become a huge passion of hers. She has been involved with BtBL for over 3 years now and loves working as a Family Support chair.