Operation Smoke Detector Program Will Be at Christmas in the Village!

christmasHave you heard of the Operation Smoke Detector Program? This program is free and is designed to save lives in the event of a fire or a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Statistics show that in a fire, households that have a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm are much more likely to be awakened by the alarm and get out of the house in time to save themselves and their families.

Carbon monoxide is a deadly odorless gas emitted from a malfunctioning furnace. Without a carbon monoxide detector, there is no way to recognize the deadly gas until danger symptoms begin occurring in the body and many times it is too late for the victim to realize what is happening.

Our foundation along with the Omaha Fire Department and the Red Cross have teamed together to make sure that no family in Omaha will be left without a smoke/carbon monoxide detector in their home. So far this year the Operation Smoke Detector Program has installed 1250 detectors all at no charge to the resident!

Join Us at Christmas in the Village!

Our foundation will be at Christmas in the Village on December 5th from 12pm-5pm at 24th & Lake St. Please look for our booth. We will be partnering with the Omaha Fire Department and the Nebraska/SW Iowa Red Cross to be offering free smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors come with 10 year batteries!

Look for our booth and sign up to get one of these detectors installed absolutely free.

Can’t Make It? Request Your Detector

If you or someone you know, needs a fire/carbon monoxide detector for their home, please sign up below or call the Omaha Fire Department at 402-444-3570 to schedule your installation.

This winter give your family the “Gift of Safety.” It won’t cost you anything and it will give you the peace of mind to know that you are helping to keep your family safe.

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A Letter to Baby Olivia

A month after Kerrie died, I wrote a letter to baby Olivia. I wanted her to know how much she had meant to me. I’m sharing it here and now because many of us from OPD want to go to DC to honor Kerrie as an Officer. I want to go to DC to honor Kerrie as the amazing friend and day-to-day hero that she was.

Dear Olivia,

It’s taken me awhile to write this letter to you. The words just never seemed to come. Usually I know what to say to someone who is grieving but to you…when I try to form the right words, I just find an emptiness in my core. Your mother was a good friend. She lived a short life but she lived more than most of us will in 80 or 90 years. She loved more than most of us can even imagine.

When I think of her, that emptiness takes over again. I feel like nothing I say to you will ever fully explain her goodness. I suppose ‘good’ is the only word I can find that really describes her. Your mother believed in the goodness of others and in the goodness of the world. She met someone and saw the potential for goodness inside them. I know she saw it in me much more than I see it in myself.

In our line of work, we mostly have contact with people when they are at the lowest moments of their lives. And sometimes those horrible moments can rub off on us. Those moments in other people’s lives begin to affect our own lives. Those moments can eat away at you at night. But that is part of the life officers choose. We choose to meet people at their worst and to absorb those moments. We know they will affect us in some way or another. They can make us hard, uncaring and sometimes they even make us complain and criticize those around us.

Your mother was the only officer I have ever met who never let those moments bother her. She would smile and she would laugh. She would say “dang it!” and the bad moment would pass. People responded to her goodness as if they could sense that goodness inside of her.

Kam & IIf you lived in our world, the world of officers, you would know how truly remarkable that was. I wish I had told her that. For months leading up to her death I found myself becoming more and more in awe of your mother. She would write me little notes on my desk and leave them to brighten up my day. And they would! Just little notes of nothing that made me smile. She did it just because she wanted to share her ‘good’ with me.

When you were born, I went to visit you and your mom. I brought gifts from a group of us officer Mommies who wanted to make sure she had everything she needed for your long stay at the hospital. She was so excited to show me your little room. She joked that all the pictures were of you and your Daddy, and that maybe the nurses liked him more than her. She doted over your “big feet”, which were so, so tiny and told me every updated statistic on your growth. She had everything memorized and could recite all your latest numbers from heart. I would have made the trip for any of my friends who but your mom wrote me the sweetest thank you note afterward, one that was so detailed and so appreciative for the little things that I did not think much of. She delivered that note after my son was born a few months later. She brought homemade treats for my little family and I introduced her to my new son.

We talked about how much she loved her temporary position with the Fugitive Unit and how she wanted to make it permanent so she could spend more time with her family, and with you. We talked about how much she loved the job and how excited she was to bring you home in a few days. She showed me the latest pictures of you on her phone. And then she left. It was just a short visit but one that I wish I had savored more.

I remember opening her thank you card that night and smiling at how sweet it was. She was so thankful that we were friends. She died a few days later. She died with those homemade treats still sitting on my counter. The days after she was killed, I thought about you every single moment of the day. My daughter ate those homemade snacks your mom made and said, “Kerrie! I love her!” I cried and cried for you. I promised your mother I would be there for you and your Daddy. So many of us from your police family also swore to protect you and your entire family.

I hope that by the time you read this, you still know my name. I hope that I have kept my promise to your mother. I hope that when you see an Omaha Police Officer you know that you are our family and that we love you. I hope that when you are old enough to see the videos of her funeral, you will understand that on the day your Mommy was buried, the entire city was silent. Thousands upon thousands of people lined the procession route, waving flags, hugging and crying. And they did it in complete silence. I have never, and hope to never, see anything like it again. During a time in American history where so many people in our society are anti-police, your mother changed the game. Her story touched people all over the world. Her goodness resonated with millions. Her picture was everywhere. On billboards, in magazines, newspapers and tv. Her name was “trending” on social media. #KerrieOn echoed everywhere. Strangers felt as though they knew her by the stories we shared. People just called her “Kerrie.” No further identification was needed. We all shared her loss. Collectively we mourned the loss of someone so good. But no one has felt the loss like your father. Your Daddy has been stronger than anyone should ever have to be. And he is doing it all for you, your sister and your brother.

In the time that has passed since your Mommy was taken, I have heard your Daddy say so many profound things. But one of the moments I will never forget was when he described how much your Mommy and Daddy “loved each other” in the five years they were together. He said that they had loved “a lifetime” in a short amount of time. They packed so much love into those short years that he was so grateful to have had them.

I pray that one day you find someone who loves you as much as your Daddy loved your Mommy. I have a feeling your Daddy will make sure that person is worthy of your love too.

Your Blue Family is always here for you, baby girl. God Bless and Kerrie On.

Officer Jessica Swanson

Press Release: Help Send OPD Officers to DC to Honor Fallen Sister Kerrie Orozco

​The ​First Responders Foundation is ​​honored to be sponsoring the #KerrieOn2​DC/#SupportBlue fundraiser to help raise funds for Omaha Police Officers to honor ​Officer Kerrie Orozco in Washington DC during National Police Memorial Week (May 2016).

We will be hosting a media opportunity tomorrow to announce this project. First Responders representatives as well as OPD officers will be available for personal one on one interviews.

Tomorrow (Friday November 19th)
Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn
615 Leavenworth (Enter the South Door)
11:00 am

​The ​F​irst Responders​ Foundation​ is also the creator of ​the grassroots ​Support Blue Campaign and this is a perfect ​opportunity for all Americans to stand with ​law enforcement to show honor and respect to not only the fallen officers but all current first responders as well.

​We are hoping to raise enough funds to send honor guard​ / pipe and drum​ members, close ​OPD ​friends and crew members of Kerrie’s to the memorial​ services​.

Officers have to pay all of their own expenses​ to travel to DC so it’s important to assist them financially ​so they are able to attend the memorial service​s​ as Kerrie’s name will be engraved on the National Police Memorial Wall.

The First Responders Foundation has partnered with the ​following ​organizations to join our efforts in this important endeavor​: ​

Omaha Police Officers Association
Fraternal Order of Police
OPD Welfare & Benefit Association
Black Police Officers Association
Latino Peace Officers Association
Nebraska Association of Women Police Officers

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Is #SupportBlue helping or hurting police/community relationship?

Originally published by Brandon McDermott, KVNO News


Omaha, NE – A campaign called Support Blue started late last year in Omaha as a way to bring support for law enforcement together. Following the death of Omaha police officer Kerrie Orozco in May the campaign ramped up and has even seen interest in neighboring cities, like Chicago. KVNO reports on why the Support Blue campaign started and if it’s helpful in bringing people together or if it could be divisive.

The Support Blue campaign started in Omaha following the murder of two New York City police officers in December of 2014. Investigators said the execution style killings were in revenge of the Eric Garner death at the hands of NYC police earlier in the year.

The Support Blue campaign (#SupportBlue) was started by First Responders Foundation and spearheaded by Bridget Fitzpatrick to show support for law enforcement. Fitzpatrick is the social media coordinator for the Omaha Police Department. The civil unrest around the country in 2014 stemming from shooting deaths of unarmed citizens also played into the formation of #SupportBlue, according to Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick and the First Responders Foundation asked local businesses to put up ‘Support Blue’ stickers in their store fronts and had people take pictures with police to post to social media, to increase awareness of how important law enforcement is in our community.

“What can we do for our law enforcement community to help this? And we know that the majority of people do support the police,” Fitzpatrick says. ”But they’re just quiet. So, we wanted to come up with a way where people could publicly show their support of police.”

Fitzpatrick says the tragic shooting death of Officer Kerrie Orozco in May of this year helped bring the Omaha community together.

“During that time when we saw all those people with #SupportBlue signs, #SupportBlue shirts. It gave the community a way to grieve together. But it was also a way to show their support together.”

opd2John Crank is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Crank says the death of Officer Orozco sent a shock-wave throughout Omaha.

“That was a rough thing to go through and it hurt the community and generated a lot of pain,” Crank says.

He says organizers of #SupportBlue are reaching out to an existing community to strengthen binds, so to speak.

“They are very supportive of the Police, supporters are very loyal. They tend to be people that come from military backgrounds, police backgrounds and fire backgrounds or other public service backgrounds. And they will gather around when they feel like police are threatened.”

But this week James Comey, the Director of the FBI, said the #BlackLivesMatter movement and also pro-law enforcement campaigns cause further division between the police and the communities in which they serve. He said this is because they can be misunderstood. Comey said in a speech to students at the University of Chicago Law School that “I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says police have become ‘fetal’ adding: “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict … they don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”

John Crank says most police officers misjudge how they are viewed.

“They don’t think people like them generally. I’ve done a number of these surveys. I’ve given the same survey to citizens and police. Police consistently have a lower or estimation of what citizens think of them than they (citizens) actually do.”

Crank says we all know police officers are there to serve and protect; to provide security for citizens and thereby improving the quality of life. But is a push to further display supporting the police causing a division in Omaha? Fitzpatrick doesn’t think so.

“It’s respect. I liken it to when the Vietnam, when soldiers came back and people spit on them, threw tomatoes at them and protested against them. Well now it’s the same thing only – they’re killing them.”

Professor Crank said police deaths have slowly declined since 2001 when 242 officers died in the line of duty. In 2005 that figure dropped to 166 and this year there have been 103 police deaths through October 29.

While #SupportBlue is rallying people already prone to support law enforcement, officers know the real way to make a change is by meeting and having a relationship with the people they protect.

Events like last week’s OPD sponsored ‘Cops and Bobbers’ event at Benson Park in Omaha, play an important role in that relationship. Police officers helped show kids from 5-17 how to fish first hand and offered a free lunch. It’s a small step, Crank says, but it lets people in the community know it’s okay to support the men and women in Blue.

Recap: 5 Events in 30 Days

Ahhhh…. or should we say AHHHHH! That is the sound made by many members of our foundation after the last of our events for the year were completed. This year we have been busier than ever before with community events and activities, having been involved in ten events this year with five of those events happening within thirty days!


2nd Annual 9/11 Memorial Benefit

The mad rush started with the 9/11 Minute of Silence. This event was held at Memorial Park on Sept. 11 at 9am. Governor Pete Ricketts attended along with Omaha’s top leaders to observe a minute of silence at 9:11am. The minute of silence recognized everyone that was killed in the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US.

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Just three days later on Sept. 14th, we held our 1st Annual Golf Tournament fundraiser. This was originally scheduled much earlier in the year, but multiple rainouts forced us to this later date. But, even with the later date the event was super fun and successful!

Three days after that on Sept 17th, we held our annual 9/11 Memorial Benefit fundraiser. This was held at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol barn. There were both silent and live auctions that proved to be very spirited, and we all feasted on a delicious bbq dinner and designer cupcakes. And of course there was much horsing around!

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FBI Executive Shoot STEAK-Out

FBI Executive Steak-Out Shoot

After the benefit, we had a reprieve of sixteen days before our next event. That event was Action Day held on Oct. 3rd at the Omaha Police Training Academy. Action Day brings together area scouts to work on crime prevention badges and the general public to come see all of our cool police and fire equipment in action!

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Six days after Action Day, we hosted the FBI Executive Steak-Out Shoot at the Police Training Academy. Numerous executives from around Omaha signed up to learn more about the police department. They went through the Virtra system, which is a simulator for live time 911 calls, and the participants were involved in real-life reactions. They get to see what it feels like to be in an officer’s shoes and have to make a life-or-death decision in a split-second. They also partnered with our training instructors and were brought out to the gun range to fire a multitude of high caliber weapons.

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So let us just say AHHHH one more time! It takes a great team of members and volunteers to be able to pull often events, let alone five in 30 days! If you would like a piece of the fun, please contact us to sign up as a volunteer. Next year we will be changing the dates of some of our events so that we can spread the fun throughout the year!

Join Us in Sending Prayers and Condolences to the Kansas City Fire Department

Our mission statement reads to enhance public safety and build community appreciation and respect for our first responders. No matter how much state-of-the-art equipment or training a department has, sometimes tragedies still happen. Kansas City Fire Department is currently experiencing the worst type of tragedy…times two. This is the time when appreciation and respect are about all that can be offered to the firefighters in KC.

We are sending that support in the form of prayers and condolences to the Kansas City area. Not only has their fire department lost two members, but the entire nation has lost two more heroes. Firefighters know when they take this job, these are the risks that they face each and every day and most times everyone goes home safely, but not every time. October 13 brought that reality home to the Kansas City Fire Department.

The grief is apparent as Fire Chief Paul Berardi and his staff struggle to get through their press conference. We feel their pain and the pain of their entire department. But as Chief Berardi said so emotionally, they will continue to do their jobs as they do every day. The Kansas City firefighters will get through this with heavy hearts but they took an oath to protect all of us and that is what they will continue to do. That is why we call them heroes.

Learn more about the fallen firefighters from The Kansas City Star, and join us in supporting and sending condolences to the Kansas City Fire Department by using the #SupportRed hashtag in your social media updates.

Join Us at the #SupportBlue Rally

When: Monday, September 7, 2015
Time: Immediately Following Septemberfest Labor Day Parade (approximately 12:30pm)
Where: Central Station at 505 So. 15th St

Last week Deputy Goforth was pumping gas and was executed from behind. We have decided that we will hold a ‪#‎SupportBlue‬ Rally called “Officer I Have Your Back” to show that we stand behind our entire police department.

At the rally we will become a human shield and stand shoulder to shoulder around the block of Central Station. A prayer will be said for the safety of our officers.

The parade is scheduled to run until approximately 12:30 and we will meet at Central directly afterwards. We are asking people to wear their‪ #‎SupportBlue‬ shirts or a blue shirt and carry signs showing their support. Children and strollers are welcome to attend.

Let’s show the Omaha Police Department how much this town appreciates them! We want to be louder and prouder than any protesters. Our officers need our support; are you in?

Please share this post and let’s get enough people to wrap around Central twice!

We Have Four Events in Thirty Days! Really? Yes, We Really Do!

The First Responders Foundation has been very, very busy this year! We have lots of people who have volunteered their time to make sure that these events go on without a hitch! We have four events in thirty days coming up, all created to bring you fun and entertainment and to raise awareness and funds for our police and fire departments in Omaha.

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#SupportBlue Goes to Chicago!

Members of our foundation, along with officers from the Omaha Police Department, recently had the opportunity to join other first responders at a celebrity/first responders golf tournament in Chicago.

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Scout Day and Action Day Combine Events!

Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts have always worked hard to get their badges. For as long as we can remember, Scouts have been reaching out to the Omaha Police Department to work with officers to meet the requirements to get a law enforcement badge. With so many Scouts randomly coming to the police for this badge, the Omaha Police Department (OPD) started hosting an event about 12 years ago called “Scout Day.”  

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