Last week the LCC K-9 Ministry was thrilled to be able to meet the kids attending the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) Kids Camp in Salem, Wisconsin. The camp is organized for surviving children (6-14 years of age) and their parent or legal guardian of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. It allows families to interact in a relaxed setting, removed from everyday life.
On Saturday, five LCC K-9 Ministry teams welcomed the kids and their families as they arrived at Milwaukee Mitchell Airport. There were 138 campers, and our primary role was to be with them in counseling sessions, but we could meet them while they did other activities. The kids enjoyed exploring police motorcycles, checking out a helicopter, shooting 22-caliber rifles, and other fun things.
Some of the comments the handlers shared were:
"One of the girls from the second group arrived early. I asked her where she was from, and she said Miami Beach. I shared with her that Tobias and I had been down to Surfside following the condominium collapse. She told me that that was the last 'job' her dad worked before he died in August 2021."
"Mary was a big hit with the two groups we served. She was in the center of the circle of kids, and they took turns spending time with her. We feel very blessed to have served these young people today. Today I was in with a counselor again. It was her first year at the camp. One thing she did was ask the kids to picture themselves in the future. Who did they want to be? Who did they want around them? What did they want to do? One boy said, 'I want to keep living my faith.'"
On Friday, the teams were back at the airport to see them off as they returned home. We were blessed to be able to serve these children and their families and hope to see them again soon.
The LCC K-9 teams serving included:
LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dog Candace (LCC Staff)
LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dog Charity (Brookfield - Brookfield, Wisconsin)
LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dog Dora (Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee - Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dog Eve (St. John’s - Lombard, Illinois)
LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dog Julia (King of Glory - Elgin, Illinois)
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Mary (St. Paul's - Janesville, Wisconsin)
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Michael (LCC Staff)
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Rhoda (Prince of Peace - Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin)
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Samson (Zion - Marengo, Illinois)
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Tobias (Lord of Glory - Grayslake, Illinois)
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog in training Galilee
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog in training Zacchaeus
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Devorah (Redeemer - Fort Collins, Colorado) and her handlers were honored to be present at the first Shield616 Event for Larimer County, Colorado.
During the ceremony, which was held at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Larimer County Sheriff’s Deputies were gifted potentially life-saving armor. Community members were also invited to Adopt a Larimer County Deputy to support now prayerfully and in the future as they perform their duties.
The President and CEO of Shield616, Jake Skifstad, told how his vision for “Angel Armor” evolved. He is a retired Police Officer and SWAT Officer from Colorado Springs. He was involved with the New Life and Planned Parenthood shootings in Colorado Springs in 2007, in which the shooters used assault rifles, and one officer was killed, and others were injured.
After 14 years as an Officer, God asked him to do more. He and his team are now working tirelessly to show that first responders are being protected, loved, and supported. Shield616 was founded to provide rifle protection for first responders who sacrificially serve our communities, including police, sheriff, fire, and EMS. 616 is for Ephesians 6:16, which begins, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith…”.
Newly elected Larimer County Sheriff John Feyen spoke passionately about his faith and stated, “Before putting on the rest of my gear, first I put on the armor of God.”
Each Deputy was given new Angel Armor vests, a Bible with a thin blue line on the cover, and a challenge coin given to the person who “Adopted” them. The Angel Armor only weighs 2.2 pounds and can stop bullets from assault rifles. Their current body armor weighs over 20 pounds and can only stop bullets from a pistol.
The church was filled with Deputies, their families, friends, and community members. Devorah greeted people as they came in and stayed until everyone left. Her handlers, Bonnie Fear and Jody Lockwood adopted a Deputy and plan to share their names with their team so everyone can include them in their prayers.
LCC K-9 Police Ministry® Dog Isaac (Redeemer - Spokane Valley, Washington) was invited to the Spokane's Regional Emergency Communications Center through the help of a Spokane County Sheriff's Chaplain.
We made our way through, visiting the 911 center, police dispatch, sheriff's dispatch, fire dispatch and finished off with the administration. Isaac was well loved by all. One of the dispatchers just recently came back to work after losing her spouse to a tragic event. Being able to spend some time with Isaac made her day.
It also turns out that the Sheriff's chaplain, who was with us, was the same chaplain who was called out to that dispatchers home the night her spouse died. They have not spoken in a long time. The chaplains response to today's encounter was God used Isaac today to help them both reconnect and heal.
Dear Lord help me keep safe those who depend on me.
Give me healthy ears for the are my link with those who need me.
Help me remember that I make a difference, however small it might seem some days and that I matter.
I am a dispatcher, Lord grant me peace.
In the early hours of February 7, Milwaukee Police Officer Peter Jerving lost his life in the line of duty pursuing a robbery suspect. His death left a void felt across the entire department, almost four years to the day of the last line of duty death.
The LCC K-9 Police Ministry® was invited by Wisconsin Law Enforcement Death Response Team (WI LEDR) to attend critical post-incident debriefs and go on wellness visits department-wide. LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dogs Benjamin (LCC Staff), Charity (Brookfield - Brookfield, Wisconsin), Dora (Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee - Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Eve (St. John's - Lombard, Illinois) and Julia (King of Glory - Elgin, Illinois), and their active and retired law enforcement handlers were able to aid officers, command staff, communications staff, and administrative staff as they mourned the loss of a fellow officer and colleague.
During these visits, many were offered an opportunity to have meaningful conversations, talk with fellow officers experiencing the same feelings, and sometimes cry into the fur of the K9s. We were honored to be present with the entire department as they process their grief, remember the life and service of Officer Jerving, and take the next steps toward healing.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for another." John 15:13
Last week, LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dog Isaac (Redeemer Lutheran - Spokane Valley, Washington) and his law enforcement handler Bill attended a regional 1st Responder Conference in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The conference travels throughout the United States, providing education, mental health awareness, and resources to all first responders, their spouses, and those who work/volunteer in a supporting role in the first responder's community.
Guest speakers provided a wealth of information regarding health, setting up wellness programs, and providing resources that are readily available in this area. How damaging long-term trauma is to our bodies, and how we can slow down the effects. Some shared personal stories of their own journeys and how they tried to manage their lives by themselves, trying to survive the mental roller coaster they were on. None were able to manage without getting outside help.
During both days of the conference, several people visited K-9 Isaac at our booth. Isaac put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces. It was clear Isaac brought joy and comfort to those attending this conference.
Some were willing to share their stories with Isaac's handler Bill after learning he was a retired police officer. Isaac's presence allowed us to begin those conversations. Several people come back multiple times to get more love and comfort from Isaac and talk to Bill.
Bill connected with other outlying agencies, letting them know about the LCC K-9 Police Ministry and sharing about LCC Hearts of Mercy & Compassion ministry. Several police chaplains were also in attendance, and the team was able to connect with them as well.