In the early 1980s an idea was conceived. The idea centered around the problems encountered by many a Correctional Officer’s family that had fallen on hard times following the Officer’s death in the line of duty. Friends would try to help, but too often their efforts, although sincerely well intentioned, were fragmented and of little significant effect in the long term.
Most large law enforcement groups already had benefit organizations available and systems in place to assist their members. In 1984 this was not true of the Corrections profession. With over 350,000 Correctional Officers nationwide at the time, the establishment and implementation of a supportive network among the Corrections community was long overdue.
An organization was called for that not only would assist the Correctional family in a time of need, but also would understand and attend to the unique and specific needs of a Correctional family, as opposed to other law enforcement professions. Thus, the Correctional Peace Officers (CPO) Foundation was born. Its two basic goals were and remain, first, to sustain, support and assist the survivors of a Correctional Officer killed in the line of duty; and, second, to promote and project a positive image of the Correctional Officer to the general public and within the profession itself. With steady growth over the years, the CPO Foundation now also operates an extensive Catastrophic Assistance Program to assist Correctional Officers and/or their families in times of emergency, personal crisis or other critical need.
Membership in The CPO Foundation, as for all charities, is strictly voluntary. As early as 1987, Supporting Members were able to make their monthly donations via the convenient option of automatic payroll deduction in three different states. By December 2004 the number of states and counties in which The CPO Foundation had achieved payroll deduction status had grown to 28. Additionally, Federal Bureau of Prisons staff may designate The CPO Foundation as a recipient of their charitable donations through direct deposit.
Supporting Members nationwide may also donate via authorized bank draft withdrawal or directly by check or credit card, although history has proven that payroll deduction is by far the simplest and most popular means by which The CPO Foundation’s members prefer to donate. Therefore, increasing the number of states in which payroll deduction is available to Supporting Members is an ongoing project and pursuit of The CPO Foundation.
In 1990, The Correctional Peace Officers Foundation began hosting an annual four-day gathering for Correctional Officers and families called “Project 2000”. The focal event of that “Project,” and of every “Project 2000” gathering since, is a National Memorial Service to recognize those men and women in the Corrections profession who lost their lives in the line of duty in the preceding year. Surviving family members are invited as honored guests of The CPO Foundation, and Honor Guards from Correctional facilities or departments across the nation participate in the Memorial Service. Seminars and support group sessions are also offered at “Project 2000”, as well as four hosted meal functions. The last of these is the Sunday Prayer Breakfast that many have considered as one of the most memorable and special events of their lives.
Purpose and Goals
- To sustain, support and assist, per the dictates and within the legally designated bounds and parameters of The Correctional Peace Officers (CPO) Foundation by-laws, the surviving Spouse and/or Family of a Correctional Officer who is killed is the line of duty at the hands of an incarcerated felon or who dies as a direct result of an assault or altercation by or with such felon.
- To promote and project a positive image of the Correctional Officer to the general public and within the profession itself.
- To continue to increase Supporting Membership in The CPO Foundation.
- To encourage sponsorship of The CPO Foundation among Corporate America’s businesses and industries that are interested in the welfare of Correctional Officers and Families, and in the strength and vitality of the Corrections profession.
- To continue to implement and strive to expand The CPO Foundation’s Catastrophic Assistance Program for Correctional Officers and/or their immediate Families in times of need.
- To encourage attendance and participation in The CPO Foundation’s annual Project 2000 gathering for Correctional Officers each June, which gathering includes The CPO Foundation Annual National Memorial Service for fallen Corrections professionals.
- To encourage communication, fellowship and connection among Correctional Officers and Families nationally and internationally.
- To be true and in all ways live up to The CPO Foundation’s motto: “Taking Care of Our Own”