Organization offers perspective on coping with death of police officer

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COLUMBIA - Following the death of a police officer in Clinton on Monday, a Missouri organization that offers resources to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty shared its perspective on the grieving process.

Clinton Officer Gary Michael was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. As of Tuesday afternoon, the suspect in Michael's death, Ian McCarthy, was still at large.

Missouri Concerns of Police Survivors, based in Camdenton, will typically reach out to the families of officers killed while on duty within 24 hours of their death. 

C.O.P.S. provides a number of resources to the families, including helping them file for financial benefits and connecting them with other families that have lost an officer. 

Every person on the C.O.P.S. board has lost a family member or coworker.

Annette Jansen, a member of the board, said the pain she felt when she heard about Michael's death is a feeling she knows all too well. 

“Our first reaction obviously is a gut wrenching heartbreak because we as board members completely remember and understand that pain like no one else does," Jansen said. 

For the families of police officers killed in the line of duty, the grieving process that follows their death can be a visible experience, sometimes drawn out in the public eye. 

“It’s not just a regular death, it’s a death that is thrown into public view and your whole life, and all of your grief and all of your pictures of your family are thrown out there for everybody to see,” Jansen said.

One local police department is giving its officers the option to honor Michael.

Columbia officers can wear mourning bands for the next two weeks as a tribute to Michael.