SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — More than 200 relatives of police officers killed in the line of duty met at Breakwater Beach Waterpark in Seaside Heights Tuesday to enjoy a day of hamburgers, water slides, boardwalk rides and arcade games. Everything was offered to the families for free. It’s their 9th year meeting.
If anyone knows what the families of the slain Dallas Police officers may be going through right now, it’s a group like this one.
“My husband was actually trying to apprehend a criminal, and the criminal ended up shooting him and killing him with a shotgun,” said Chatrian Shields. Her youngest was 4-months-old the day her husband died. Today, she has a 20-year-old in college, a 17-year-old in high school and her infant son is now 10-years-old.
“My brother was apprehending a criminal and a drunk driver came around the curve and hit him,” said a woman sitting across from her, Dolly Mann-Wells. Tennessee Highway Patrolman John Wells was killed in 2001.
These families offer each other continued support and friendship.
“I’m raising children by myself. If there is something I’m going through in my life, I know I can turn to one of my fellow survivors. Like my fellow surviving spouse here Chatrian. And I know she’s been there, done that,” said Lisa Presler, who has been raising her two daughters since her husband’s death while on duty in 2007. She is also the President of Garden State C.O.P.S., which stands for Concerns of Police Survivors.
These survivors have heavy hearts and prayers for the families of the fallen Dallas Police officers. But they also have hope.
“It’s kind of hard to move beyond it, but you just learn to grow with that pain instead of letting that pain succumb you,” said Shields, “I totally understand their feelings right now.”