09/03/2000

OPERATION SECURITY BLANKET

A unique tribute to fallen Officers..............by Dick Coleman

In May 1998, I visited Washington DC and attended various events during the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Week. After the Memorial Service outside the Capitol, I came across a rather unique memorial tribute called Operation: Security Blanket (OSB)

Displayed close to where the Memorial Service had been held was an enormous blue quilt adorned with hundreds of patches from law enforcement agencies in the United States and around the world.

OSB was founded in February of 1996 by Mike Simmons. A former police officer himself, Mike developed the concept of the memorial quilt after his friend and former partner Christopher Bruce Anderson was brutally murdered in the line of duty in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Officer Anderson was shot twice in the throat while serving a warrant.

Mike says, ?After finding out that we were not prepared for such a tragedy, we quickly learned that no one else is either. We decided that we were not going to just write him off as a momentary front-page story and forget about him. It was then that we picked ourselves up and decided to stand up for ourselves by keeping these types of senseless murders in the news everyday, as long as they continue, so that no one forgets what has happened.?

OSB is dedicated to the honor of those officers who sacrificed their lives in the ?line of duty?. The aim of the project is to help others in the midst of such tragedies, to increase the level of unity among law enforcement agencies of the world and to prevent as many additional officers? deaths as possible. This can be achieved by raising the publics level of awareness as to the ever-increasing trends of violence against our police officers through community bonding, education and understanding.

OSB is now an internationally recognized law enforcement memorial project. It is a world wide, all volunteer effort to collect every official law enforcement patch in the world and construct a memorial quilt made up of these patches to honor officers who have fallen in the line of duty, their families, and their agencies. This quilt travels in the United States and goes on display at various locations in a national campaign in support of the Projects aims. While on tour, each hosting agency displays the memorial quilt and collects as many patches as possible from their area, and from the visitors to the quilt whilst on display.

Upon receipt of the patches additional panels are created and attached to the travelling memorial quilt, so the memorial grows rapidly each time it moves. All law enforcement agencies are asked to participate and it is not a requirement for an agency to have lost an officer in the ?line of duty? for that agency to become involved.

Nearly three thousand patches have been contributed to date and the Memorial Quilt is expected to have grown to over a thousand square feet as more and more patches arrive. It is also likely to exceed one hundred feet in length.

Tours have already taken place in Arkansas, Louisiana and Virginia. In May 1998, eighty-eight new patches were received in Washington, D.C. in just three hours. During the summer of 1998, the quilt was on display at the FBI Academy in Virginia and has been on display for the last three years during Police Memorial Week in Washington D.C.

OSB has a policy that no profit will be made at any time from this project. Another policy is the use of donated patches only. OSB does not buy, sell or trade patches. By only using donated patches it reflects the desire of those making the donation to be involved in the creation of the Memorial Quilt. This is their unique signature of support.

So who pays for the Project? Mike says, ?WE do (with help from generous sponsors). Our postal mailings are paid for by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. The on-line services and web site are mine and I manage them myself on a daily basis. In order to establish a reputation as a trustworthy project, we agreed not to ask anyone for financial help for one year. This eliminated the possibility of your patch donations being exploited for profit, and guarantees you that this worthy project is legitimate and sincere. Now that we have become just that, we are offering agencies and individuals an opportunity to sponsor a panel for $120. Your contribution will pay for a six foot by nine foot quilted panel upon which we will sew almost one hundred law enforcement patches! Contributions pay only for the manufacture, shipping, handling, and sewing of the patches, and no profit is made by the project whatsoever.?

There are now participants and volunteers all over the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Russia, Latin America, South America, and South Africa. The project has also been featured in many magazines, newspapers and newsletters around the world.

OSB has also evolved into counselling others as more and more Officers and families lose their loved ones. Officers and families tend to seek out others who can relate to their tragedies. They come...and those at OSB will listen. They never turn anyone away or forget anyone in need - which is what Operation: Security Blanket is all about. Sometimes OSB work has to be put aside to talk with people in their time of trouble. OSB will follow all current events surrounding officer deaths and expects to be contacted by someone associated with them at some point or another. It wasnt intended to be that way...it just happened.

Mike sums up OSB, ?We are simply men and women in the law enforcement community of the world who have personally experienced this nightmare and want to prevent you from having to face one of these tragic losses yourself. We have banded together to create this special memorial on our own time, from our own homes and offices. Through our efforts, we hope to decrease the number of officers killed in the line of duty and to honour those already lost to this senseless violence. Remember... All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing...

Has your Department donated its patch yet? All patches are listed in a searchable database on the OSB website at: http://www.cji.net/blanket/osbmain.html. Please take a moment to see if your Department is represented and if it is not, please send your Department patch to -

Operation: Security Blanket
333 Sunshine Road
ROYAL
AR 71968
United States of America

The OSB website has a lot of information about this project and also tells you how you can become a volunteer co-ordinator to collect patches on behalf of OSB.

I have volunteered to collect patches in the United Kingdom and if anyone in the UK or Europe is reading this and would like to donate a patch I will be happy to receive your donation. Please send to -

Dick Coleman
PO Box 1027
Narborough
Kings Lynn
Norfolk PE32 1FH
United Kingdom

I will then ensure that your donation is forwarded on to OSB for inclusion on the Memorial Quilt.

If anyone would like any more information I will be only too pleased to try and assist. I can be contacted by e-mail at: dickcoleman@compuserve.com

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