Police Survivors Hold Candlelight Vigil for Alabama's Fallen Officers


By Heather VacLav

Two Alabama police officers have been killed in the line of duty, they are among the 40 across the nation who died in action so far this year. Alabama’s Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) held it’s annual candlelight vigil Saturday night to help families and co-workers cope with the loss.

An intimate group of survivors from across the state gathered outside the State Capitol to pay tribute to Alabamians who made the ultimate sacrifice. For the people in attendance, it was more than a vigil for their loved ones; it was a support system for each other.

Corinna Anderson of Salem, Alabama lost her husband in September of 2009. This is the first time she and her family attended the annual vigil to honor her husband’s life.

“Not necessarily Memorial day, just any day, we remember him every day, there's not a day that goes by that we don't remember him,” Anderson said.

“As long as I share his story, he's still alive, even though he's not standing here, he's still here,” she said, standing next to her son and grandson.

The Anderson family says it means a lot to see people who are going through the same situation. “You don’t [always] have a lot of support where you come from because there's not a lot of people there understand what you go through,” said Kristopher Anderson, Corinna Anderson’s son.

Being a survivor is not limited to being a family member, there were more than 20 police and fire and rescue officers from around the River Region at the vigil.

“I don’t wake up every morning thinking that I may not go home,” said Captain Neil McMahon with the Montgomery Police Department. “But then you come to something like this and you realize there are a lot of officers that woke up one morning and didn’t realize they were not going to go home that day.”

Montgomery’s 911 Operations Manager Major Melissa Chandler spoke during the vigil to the group about her experiences working with endangered officers as a dispatcher.

“When you see the family members of officers who have grieved the same loss that you have, you realize that they live that loss every day,” Chandler said.

Beneath the badge, the fallen officers are spouses, parents, siblings, children, friends and coworkers, and all of them gave their lives to protect others. Capt. McMahon says being at the vigil every year is the right thing to do. “It’s the least that I can do, it’s the least any of us can do.”

Last year the Alabama Chapter of COPS was unable to host the Candlelight Vigil, so this year it honored four officers who were killed in the line of duty from 2010 and 2011.

The national ceremony for police survivors' was held earlier in May in Washington D.C.