Land Donated to C.O.P.S. in Memory of Law Enforcement Daughter
Jessica Jean Cheney was born September 15, 1974, in Pennsylvania. She moved often as a child due to the fact her father was active military. The Cheney family finally settled in King William County, Virginia, in 1984. Jessica’s career goals were to become an astronaut until she learned, at that time, females were not accepted as fighter pilots and that was the logical route into the space program. In 1991, she decided to become a Virginia State Trooper since her parents were both in law enforcement careers; her mother, Sue, a Virginia State Police Dispatcher and her father, Richard, a Navy Master-at-Arms.
Jessica graduated as a Trooper on June 14, 1996. At the time, she was the youngest female ever to graduate and serve as a Virginia State Trooper. While directing traffic at the scene of an accident, Trooper Cheney was hit by a passing motor vehicle. Jessica died on January 17, 1998, after serving just two short years as a Trooper. Her badge, number 980, was the first badge officially retired by Virginia State Police.
After Jessica’s death, the Cheney family was in turmoil. The once close-knit, military family was falling apart with no knowledge of what to do. They turned to Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) for help. Richard and Sue finally attended their first C.O.P.S. Parents’ Retreat in 2005, seven years after Jessica’s death.
“As a first-time attendee, I went to as many counseling sessions that I could fit in my schedule. I cried at several of them. Other fathers were crying with me. I had never experienced such in my life. Men don’t cry. I had only wept once in my life before Jessica’s death. Now that has changed forever. I’ve discovered that it is okay to cry,” explained Richard.
Sue went on to say, “We had to learn to laugh again, too. I realized I hadn’t really laughed in over seven years. We learned it was okay to live again; it was okay to enjoy the life God gave us.”
The Cheneys have continued to attend C.O.P.S. retreats and programs. “We have made friends with many law enforcement survivors. We feel the attendees at Parents’ Retreat are like members of our family. We are an extended family with shared tragedies that have bonded us for life,” said Richard and Sue.
Shortly after Jessica died, the Cheneys bought a piece of property in rural Virginia to get away from it all and find peace and quiet. “For several years now Sue and I have discussed what to do with the land we owned in Lunenburg County, Virginia. We both decided that we would offer the land to Concerns of Police Survivors for the purpose of building a retreat facility there. It provided us a means of honoring our daughter and we both felt it would give survivors a ‘home’ to go to each year,” Richard said with a smile.
On December 8, 2009, Richard and Sue Cheney signed the papers with C.O.P.S. Executive Director Suzie Sawyer giving the 117-acre property in rural Virginia to Concerns of Police Survivors. The land is worth $293,000 and will be a great ‘home’ in the future for America’s law enforcement survivors.
“Sue and I believe there is a purpose for everything that happens in life. We may not understand why things happen, but acknowledge there is a purpose. I believe that Jessica’s death was for a reason we may never understand in this life. Her death brought financial comfort that enabled us to purchase the property,” said Richard.
“We believe this donation is a good thing for Concerns of Police Survivors. We love C.O.P.S. for what the organization has accomplished and feel that the land donation will aid them in the healing of many, many law enforcement survivors in the years to come. We both know that the donation was the right thing to do in memory of Jessica,” concluded Sue.
To learn more about Concerns of Police Survivors visit www.nationalcops.org.