The fatal ambush of five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night left one widow and her teenage daughters shocked, grieving, and wondering: Could they afford to pay their mortgage and stay in their home?
Bills and documents were strewn across a table when the Dallas Police Association and Texas’ lieutenant governor arrived on Friday with a check. The fallen officer had managed the family’s finances, and in the wake of his death, his wife was left trying to reassure their daughters of their financial security.
“She just grabbed me,” said Det. Frederick Frazier, the chairman of the Assist the Officer Foundation who delivered $120,000 to the family. “[She said], ‘I thought we were going to have to move.’”
Since 1999, the police association’s Assist the Officer Foundation has raised money for fallen and injured police officers across North Texas. So far, the organization has through its reserves provided $120,000 to each of the five families of officers killed in the massacre, and community donations continue to pour in. Injured officers will also receive donations based on their needs.
“That’s the one thing we want to provide them with immediately, is some semblance of financial security,” Frazier said.
The foundation works out of the police association's offices, which covers its overhead costs, and it is run entirely by volunteers. On Saturday, retired officers and union leaders opened up the building, typically closed on weekends, to handle incoming donations.
A phone bank by local TV station WFAA raised more than $255,000 for the foundation on Friday alone, and Frazier said Saturday that he believes donations have topped $300,000. A surge in traffic briefly overwhelmed the foundation’s website, and volunteers continued to take donations from the community by phone.
“They feel like they want to do something,” Frazier said.
The money is being earmarked for the families of the officers who were killed and injured and will continue to be for probably the next 30 days, or as donations keep coming in.
“We’re very appreciative not only of the money, but the cards and the prayers,” said Monte Petersen, a retired detective who was with the Dallas Police Department for 29 years.
Petersen, who in his career saw a close friend killed in the line of duty, said it’s difficult for officers to be on the job in the days after a tragedy — but they do it with professionalism. Kind words from members of the community make all the difference, he added.
“We know not everybody can donate money, not everyone can give food. But if you want to do something, even if you’re not in Dallas, just tell your local officer if you see him…just go up to him and say we appreciate what you guys do,” he said.
“When you’ve had a bad day at work and maybe you’ve been on three or four calls where people are screaming and yelling...just one person comes up and says, 'Hey I appreciate what you do.' It just makes your whole night better.”