Wives of some Houston police officers are putting together an unprecedented family support group for officers and their families that – unlike typical wives’ auxiliaries – will include family members and male spouses.
Jennifer bates, one of the group’s founders, said the non-profit will be known as the Houston Law Enforcement Officers Family Support Unit.
“We see the needs of officers,” Bates said, “That’s why this will be more than just a wives’ group. We see the needs of officers. There are many female officers who have husbands who are not officers. They would be welcome to join this support unit.”
Bates, wife of Officer Michael Bates of the Special Response Group (SRG), said officers’ mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters will be welcomed members as would grandparents and sons and daughters. Strong law enforcement community activists also will be welcome.
“For officers young and just out of the academy, their parents or even community members who a deep caring for law enforcement officers are eligible for membership.”
Bates is the founding president, while Gina Wissinger, wife of Officer Kevin Montague, serves as founding secretary; Dena Morgan, engaged to Officer Blake Vanpelt, is treasurer.
Bates was excited to point out that the group’s vice president is Alisha Will, wife of Officer Kevin Will, killed in the line of duty May 29, 2011.
President Bates explained that an informal wives’ group formed to help Alisha when Officer Will was killed by a speeding motorist.
“When Officer Will passed,” she said, “a wives’ group supplied meals and gift cards to restaurants for Alisha in the area where she was living then. When there’s a line of duty death, the city steps in, HPOU steps in, the 100 Club steps in. We felt that wives could organize meals and gift cards and this is one less thing she (Alisha) would have to worry about.
“We believe we can to be there when an officer and the family need assistance when it’s not necessary for the city (Union and 100 Club) to step in.”
The small but dedicated wives’ group mustered its resources in 2013 when Officer W. Fikes was wounded by a suspect eventually shot and killed by other officers. The group pitched in to help the Fikes family deal with not having income from the officer’s extra job, mainly by supplying meals.
“We will be where we can contribute. In our law enforcement community we want to be able to do that. We’re a small group now and want to expand it and make it a bigger program.
“We want to make it successful and we can. Failure is just not an option.”
The group expects to be a full-fledged non-profit with its own articles of incorporation and government-approved 501c3 status by the end of the year if not sooner. Leaders also have a written set of bylaws.
Bates said she expects to hear from the Texas secretary of state soon about the articles of incorporation but believes the 501c3 approval might take a few more months.
She said the group has received positive response from Police Chief Charles McClelland, who was encouraged by the group’s participation in the pro-police rally in the Galleria area. “We’re trying to have some interaction and events at the HPOU as well.
“We have no male spouse members yet. We’ve gotten our executive board and we’ll be looking for volunteers to fill lower level board positions that we’ve opened up to spouses or family members. We hope by the end of summer we’ll be going full force out there. We’re getting our name out there and we’re starting to let people know who we are and what we are wanting to do.”