HOBART – Far too often law enforcement officers fall in the line of duty, leaving behind their loved ones. Survivors are left with many emotional scares and other burdens.
One Hobart/Lawrence officer is making a difference for those left behind.
An early morning swim has officer Israel Deutsch wearing a wetsuit rather than his usual attire.
“I’m doing the Ironman which is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run,” said Deutsch.
During the Ironman, Deutsch will wear his full uniform. He’s not only putting in countless hours of training, he’s also raising funds for Concerns of Police Survivor. It’s an organization that is there every step of the way for those left behind after an officer is killed in the line of duty.
“You don’t know what the next call you’re going to get,” said Deutsch.
Deutsch knew at a young age the law enforcement life was for him, but it was a tragic incident that sparked his career path.
“The story happens in 1995. I’m from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, north of Eau Claire, there was an officer that died in the line of duty named Michael Baribeau of Rice Lake and he died because of a domestic violence incident. He was shot and killed on scene,” said Deutsch.
Deutsch saw how the community reacted to the death and knew a job as a police officer was his calling.
“Got hired by Hobart/Lawrence and learned of their own tragic incident,” said Deutsch.
On July 22, 2002, Stephanie Markins and Bob Etter were killed by a person who intentionally rammed into their squad car at a high speed, killing them instantly.
“We had just became new as a department for just one year and it’s a small town and a small village that made up our police department,” said Deutsch.
Opening his eyes to the fact that tragedy can strike anywhere.
“I learned at that point that basically the law enforcement officers can die in the line of duty in any department,” said Deutsch.
Leaving behind not only a brother-hood, but loved ones.
“Here in Wisconsin we have about 375 survivors on our National List,” said Denise Held, secretary for the Wisconsin Chapter of C.O.P.S.
Held became involved with the program several years after her boyfriend Dave passed away from complications of losing his leg in the line of duty.
“Was hired by Minneapolis Police Department, was so excited and six months on the job at 24-years of age he was hit by a drunk driver and lost his leg in the line of duty,” said Held.
Held says C.O.P.S. mission is to rebuild shattered lives.
“From the moment an officer passes away we can be involved as much as a family or agency would like us to help. From helping to plan the funeral, to being at the visitation,” said Held.
“So, the community is affected the families are affected, the children, the relatives, the co-workers of the officer that died in the line of duty, they’re all affected by that,” said Deutsch.
“C.O.P.S. doesn’t fix anything, we can’t bring the loved ones back, as much as we’d love to make that happen, that’s not reality. But there is something special about being with other people who just understand your pain and get it,” said Held.
“Every day I wake up and I read the Officer Down Memorial Page which explains officers names that have died in the line of duty, up to date and I visualize those pictures, their stories and when it gets difficult I remember Mike, Stephanie and Bob. That’s what gets me through those miles,” said Deutsch.
Click here to learn more about C.O.P.S.
If you would like to donate to Israel’s cause, click here.