LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Violence both by and against police continues to be a hot topic in America, but for families living with the after effects when police are killed in the line of duty, it can be a grinding struggle.
Between 140 to 160 officers are killed in the line of duty every year. Left behind in the wake of the tragedies are friends and loved ones. Annually, some of the parents of those officers come together in Arkansas to help one another with the healing process.
To protect and serve, that's the mission Mark Hutchison said his son Trey Hutchison dedicated his life to.
“Our son was killed twelve years ago. He was ambushed in a 9-1-1 hang up call," Hutchison said. "He wanted to be a police officer from the time he was a little boy."
Hutchinson said the first year was tough. He was still not ready to share what was inside. What was inside him was pain over the loss of his son. With help from his wife, Mark found the program Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) and there he found comfort.
"I didn’t come that year and the next year my wife came with a couple of other ladies, and she said you have to come next year," Mark recalled.
Executive Director for C.O.P.S Dianne Bernhard said the program is a safe zone for parents.
“These family members are hurting. They’ve suffered a tremendous lost and having the opportunity to give them something back," said Bernhard.
The program offers the chance to cope and move forward, even if they may never get over their loss. Survivors learn to work through it and hopefully remember their loved ones without the pain attached to the memories. For Hutchinson, it's been a 12-year process, but he said that day by day it gets easier.
"We know that we will see him again and so that helps us carry on," he said.
In Louisiana, a law was passed where a person who assaults a police officer has to be registered on a list. It works similar to a sex offender registry, where even if the person moved they must register in the new parish.
The person who took his son's life had previous run-ins with police. Hutchison hopes this new law can saves lives.