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Officers’ wives speak about impact violence against police has on their families

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photo by Boyd Loving

By Graham Deese  /   July 20, 2016

MADISON, Wisconsin — Members of Shielded Hearts, a group of wives and loved ones of police officers, spoke out Tuesday about the impact the recent shootings are having on their families.

Tina Colon, a Shielded Hearts member, said her husband, Officer Vidal Colon, was shot in 2009 while on patrol.

The Colons’ 11-year-old daughter discovered her father had been shot when she saw him being carted away on the news. Tina received the phone call telling her what had happened while in the presence of her other children. She lost control and collapsed to the ground.

Witnessing this event traumatized the children and left emotional scars that persist to this day, she said.

“I will never forget their faces. I will never forget that phone call.” Colon said.

Fortunately, Vidal Colon survived the attack.

Tina Colon praises Shielded Hearts for aiding her long, slow process to recovery.

“This organization helped me find the strength I needed,” she said.

Mike Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, spoke on the impact the increasing violence against police officers is having on families. Goodbye hugs last longer, spouses watch their loved ones leave for work each day and they are increasingly grateful for all contact they receive throughout the day, Crivello said.

Tina Colon also talked about how difficult it was for her and other wives of officers to reassure their children, friends and themselves that their loved ones were coming home each day, “when we can’t guarantee that.”

Teresa Robinson, executive director of Shielded Hearts, argued that amidst all the controversy people forget the human side of officers. “People don’t see the real person behind the badge.” she said.

Crivello echoed this sentiment: “It’s really important that the community knows that those individuals riding out in those squads, wearing those uniforms, are human beings.”

Recent events have made life harder on officers, Robinson said. They wanted to protect and serve the community but instead are hated and persecuted, she argues.

“This is not what our officers signed up for,” Robinson said.

Dana Carpenter, another Shielded Hearts member, argued it wasn’t like this 15 years ago. “They were valued, they were respected, but times have changed,” she said.

The Shielded Hearts members emphasized the need for people to show support for law enforcement officers in their community.

Colon argued that, “any little bit of support and positive gestures towards our law enforcement” can help. While acknowledging there are no simple answers, she urged community members not to underestimate the power of positivity.

“We want the community to stand up and show support.” Robinson said.