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November 30, 2011
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Barbara A. Schwartz Living with the Sacrifice
with Barbara A. Schwartz

LWTS honorable mentions: Gary Blankinship

This month’s Honorable Mention goes to recently-retired Houston Police Officers Union President Gary Blankinship for the support he spearheaded on behalf of injured officers and their families.

Gary took charge of the union’s response to fallen officers’ survivors, making sure all their needs were met, especially helping the family through the emotional turmoil of a trial.

Gary realized that injured officers and their families had unique needs and that they lacked similar support.

When Rick Salter was shot, the union dispatched a private aircraft to pickup Rick’s son from college. The state police transported Rick’s parents into town. The union provided lodging near the medical center during Rick’s extended rehab and recovery since Rick and his family lived outside the city.

Over the years, other injured officers have received similar support from the union.

Gary co-founded the Assist the Officer Foundation which provides short-term, immediate need financial assistance to critically injured and disabled officers and their families. Assist the Officer not only services officers of the Houston Police Department, but also officers of surrounding departments and agencies in a five county area in southeast Texas. Gary continues to serve as a board member.

“Injured officers shouldn’t have to worry about putting food on the table or a roof over their heads,” Gary said.

Under his leadership the union successfully lobbied to extend line of duty benefits to officers who have endured catastrophic career ending injuries. These officers are now eligible for the same pension benefits as the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty.

Gary says of the accomplishments made during his two terms in office. “We moved the ball down field on how we respond and how we take care of our own. All we have is each other.”

In bestowing an honorable mention to Gary, we hope Gary’s efforts will inspire other unions, agencies, and departments to implement similar programs and benefits to injured officers.

About Honorable Mentions
This regular feature on PoliceOne serves as a way for the Living with the Sacrifice column to relate the inspirational stories I receive through your emails and recognize those who are supporting injured and disabled officers. Send me an email with your stories or nominations for an Honorable Mention in the Living with the Sacrifice column.

Qualifications for an honorable mention include:

1.) Any activity by an officer, department, agency, citizen, or family member that assists injured and disabled officers and/or their families
2.) An injured — currently or previously — or disabled officer who continues to protect and serve the community or their fellow injured and disabled officers


About the author

Barbara A. Schwartz retired after 30 years with NASA in Houston where she worked in Mission Control and Astronaut Training. She is a former reserve officer serving in patrol and investigations. She has been writing about law enforcement officers since 1972 and has been a contributing feature writer for American Police Beat for the past 10 years. Her articles and book reviews have also appeared in Command, The Tactical Edge, Crisis Negotiator Journal, The Badge & Gun, The Harris County Star, The Blues, and The Police News.

Schwartz earned a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University with electives in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She helped fund her education by working for the campus police department.

Contact Barbara A. Schwartz





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