Promises Kept

Former police officer, Harry Herington, made a promise to his partners just as thousands of officers do today – "If something happens to me, take care of my family."

Today as the CEO of NIC Inc., he continues that promise with Ride4Cops – an initiative to support the families of fallen officers.

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Riding to Remember

Shirley and Harrison Gibson – Washington, D.C.

Shirley and Harrison Gibson lost their son, Master Patrol Officer Brian Gibson, when he was gunned down February 5, 1997.

Shortly before 3 a.m., a recently released convict was evicted by an off-duty police officer from the Washington, D.C., night club where he was celebrating his 23rd birthday. Embarrassed in front of his gang-member friends and seeking revenge, the man retrieved a gun from his car, intending to return to the club and shoot the officer. Before he made it back, however, a police cruiser pulled up at a nearby intersection and stopped at the red light. He changed direction, walked around the back of the patrol car to the driver's side, where he fired four shots into Brian Gibson's head, neck and shoulder. Gibson, 27, married and the father of two children, died later that morning. The shooter said afterwards, he shot Gibson because "One cop is as good as another."

Several months later, Shirley Gibson received a fax announcing the annual Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) retreat for parents of officers killed in the line of duty. The retreat notice came at a time when most of the Gibsons' friends had gone on with their lives, while the couple was still grieving Brian's death. The Gibsons attended the retreat, which draws parents from across the United States. Shirley was impressed with "an organization that realizes putting like survivors together – parents with parents, spouses with spouses and children with children – connects survivors with the people who can help most. To be with other mothers who had lost children in the line of duty, and for my husband to be with other dads, allowed us to draw strength from others who had felt the same way we were feeling. C.O.P.S. helps law enforcement survivors feel like they're not alone or an oddity."

C.O.P.S. provided so much support and healing for the Gibsons that Shirley founded a Washington, D.C., chapter in 1999. She left the chapter's leadership several years later to run for a trustee position in the northern seaboard section of C.O.P.S. After four years as a trustee, Shirley became the first parent to win the organization's national presidency. Today, she serves as one of six U.S. trainers for Traumas of Law Enforcement, a program funded by the U.S. Justice Department that provides nationwide training for police officers, social workers, clergy and others who deal with law enforcement deaths.

"When it comes to law enforcement survivors, C.O.P.S. is the greatest organization I could ever have hoped for," Shirley said. "So much healing comes from this source."