Crimewatch: COPS camp helps fallen officer’s family

Crimewatch: COPS camp helps fallen officer’s family

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Texas leads the nation in the number of officers who are killed in the line of duty. It's a notorious title the Lone Star State has had since 2010 and it's keeping one non profit group busy.

The Concerns for Police Survivors, or COPS, holds a summer camp every year. Through activities, the camp helps family members cope with losing loved ones killed in the line of duty.

Amy Padron and her two daughters are the newest members of COPS. She says the camp was an eye opener. For the first time, Padron says she felt it was ok to cry in front of people.

"Nobody ever asked if you're ok because they know you're not ok. They asked you what you needed or they would just give you a hug, stand there or sit there and cry with you," said Padron.

Padron lost her partner, Jaime, in April. The Austin Police Officer was responding to a theft call at the Wal-Mart near Parmer Lane when the routine call turned deadly. He was gunned down inside the store.

Life for Padron, 10-year-old, Ariana, and 7-year- old, Olivia, instantly changed.

Life now is about new traditions and firsts, like the COPS camp in Wisconsin. Besides undergoing counseling, Ariana caught her first fish and landed a second place trophy for archery.

In her most difficult physical challenge, she found the strength to overcome her fears to climb a pole two stories tall to zip line.

"I keep telling my mom I couldn't do it, I couldn't make it," said Ariana.

The 10-year-old credits her father, who she thinks about everyday.

"I knew my dad was there to help me. How? Cause he would be cheering me on, cheering me on, and I would be this hurts!" said Ariana. "It made me feel like I could do anything."

It's the same feeling she needs to go on with life without her dad. Counseling came in the form of arts and crafts too.

"That he always be in my heart and this one means he's always going to be a police officer," said Olivia.

"This is Olivia's heart, will always be part of daddy's heart," said Padron.

"This is my hope chest. It s a little chest that I will always keep my hopes in there," said Ariana.

"We actually got to meet people who are in similar circumstances as we are. We could also see people who suffered the loss from 2002, you see that life really does go on," said Padron.

The Padron home has also changed. Once blank walls now feature pictures of the girls, Amy, and Jaime.

The girls' rooms are full of reminders of their dad. Ariana says she wears her dad's Harley helmet often. She also has his old motorcycle grips. Olivia's room is a bit more girly, but dad is still here. All the Hello Kitty dolls he gave her are safe in storage.

A new school year is the next challenge for the girls.

"He would walk them to school," said Padron

"I'm not excited for it," said Ariana. "We keep asking her. Can we be homeschooled?"

Instead of dad walking them to school everyday, mom will drive and drop them off now.

Until the next summer, when they can return to COPS camp, the girls have mementos, like this framed black heart, surrounded by angel wings, and a thin blue line inside.

The Concerns of Police Survivors is a non-profit group that started in 1984 with 110 members. Today, it has more than 15,000 members. The group uses private donations to send survivors to camp. It's one way COPS provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co workers.

Texas has five COPS chapters because the state is so large. The Central Texas chapter started in 2007. For more information, visit centraltxcops.org.

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