FAIRFIELD — When an officer is killed in the line of duty, many step up locally to raise money or lend support to the family.
That very thing has happened in Fairfield as groups began collecting and planning fundraisers as news spread of the death Wednesday of California Highway Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom of Fairfield.
As time goes by, however, that support has a tendency to taper off. That’s where the nonprofit Concerns of Police Survivors comes in. Known as COPS, it’s a group of family, spouses and coworkers of officers killed on the job.
- A bell-ringing ceremony took place at 5 p.m. Thursday at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento. The ceremony continued a tradition of ringing the bell at the academy at the close of the next business day after a CHP officer dies in the line of duty. CHP Officer Kenyon Youngstrom’s wife, children and parents attended the ceremony.
As details were released Tuesday after the Walnut Creek shooting that resulted in Youngstrom’s death, those in the NorCal chapter of COPS got ready to support the Youngstrom family, said Tami McMillan, NorCal president and sister of East Palo Alto Officer Rich May, who was killed on duty in 2006.
“After the first month, support usually starts falling off. We are here for the lifetime. We pick up the pieces,” McMillan said by phone while at a COPS sibling retreat in St. Louis. “It’s a group you never want to be a part of.”
McMillan said the organization matches up spouses, siblings and parents of those who have recently lost a loved one with those who have gone through the same thing. Several free events are set up to connect people who are dealing with the loss. One such event is a camp where children of slain officers all interact and share their feelings.
“That’s not a conversation you can have on the playground,” McMillan said. “Nobody else knows what you are going through. We’re just ready to be there for them.”
McMillan said her group recently worked with the family of slain Vallejo Police Officer Jim Capoot of Vacaville. Members of the group took part in a fundraiser Wednesday in Fairfield in memory of Capoot and Richmond Officer Bradley Moody. That event was thrown by the Solano Business Group at Kinder’s Meat and Deli and more than 200 meals were sold.
As news sank in Thursday of Youngstrom’s death, many people at the local level began organizing ways to help family and friends.
At Oakbrook Elementary School, near where Wednesday night’s vigil took place, Principal Justine Taylor and other teachers began bringing meals to the CHP officers stationed outside Youngstrom’s Cordelia home. One of Youngstrom’s four children attends the Cordelia school.
The school will also place a jug in the front office as part of its Change For Children fundraiser. Normally an annual event in November where children bring in spare change, it has been moved up to Monday. Lynne Reese, Oakbrook PTA member, said anyone from the community is invited to stop by the school and donate.
“The kids are all feeling like they want to do something,” Reese said.
A fundraiser at Jump Highway has also been set from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, where all net profits will be donated to the memorial fund, said Brian Galvond, a partner in the business. The trampoline park on Lopes Road will also raffle off prizes donated by other businesses. Galvond also said people can donate at http://www.jumphighway.com.
A memorial account has been set up and donations can be made to the Kenyon Marc Youngstrom Children’s Benefit Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo or Mechanics Bank.
Danny Bernardini can be reached at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.