Concerns of Police Survivors Sporting Clay Classic honors fallen heroes

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Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
Shotgunners enjoyed the competition shooting at the COPS Classic on April 11.

MARDELA — It’s an extraordinary organization that no one wants to join. Paula Jensen says sadly, “The dues are too high.” She lost her son, Corporal Thomas Jensen, in 2010 and became a member of COPS. It stands for Concerns of Police Survivors and the people who belong are the mothers and fathers, wives and children, brothers and sisters, and co-workers who have lost a loved one, a police officer killed in the line of duty.

Retired trooper Jeannie Mastronardi lost her partner in an accident and says, “We who have suffered the loss can relate to what a family will need to cope.” COPS provides support in many forms, financial assistance in the immediate crisis, counseling, and comfort from someone who has been in the same tragic circumstance.

On Saturday, COPS held a Sporting Clay Classic to honor Officer Michael Nickerson, who was a national trap shooting champion, killed in the line of duty in 2001. His mother, Sue Nickerson, the president of COPS, remembers Michael’s love for the sport as do his father, brother and nephew who are still police officers. This remarkable family has turned their tragic experience into a source of comfort for those who suffer the same loss. Sue says, “When a tragedy occurs there are needs that the family can’t foresee and we are there to help.”

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Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
Joe Nickerson, father of fallen officer Michael Nickerson, shoots clays at the Classic.

The friends and fellow police officers who turned out for the sporting shoot knew they would have an enjoyable day. The clay discs flew swiftly through the air and scores were kept for awards, but no one could forget why they came to the event. The money raised will send orphaned children, widows and parents to a Washington DC retreat during National Police Week. Funds also meet other unforeseen expenses.

COPS responds to a call anytime. Sue Nickerson will travel all over Maryland to help a family. Paula Jensen, who was visited by Sue says she got immeasurable help from Sue Nickerson when she needed it. “I can’t say enough,” is how she ends our interview.

How do you measure how much COPS is needed? COPS is a national organization with state chapters. Historically, Maryland has lost 312 officers who died in the line of duty.

According to Officer Thomas Hurley of the Cambridge Police Department, this city has lost only one. Officer Hurley was there honoring Officer Daniel Bier. In Maryland in 2015, two officers died. Ironically, on Friday, the day before the event, a police officer died in New Jersey. On Sunday, the day after the event, another police officer died in Texas.

The Michael Nickerson Memorial Sporting Clay Classic included renewing friendships, an auction, the awarding of trophies, feasting on delicious foods, but it ended with a ceremony of solemn remembrance at the wall of 312 names.

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Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
A ceremony of remembrance at the wall of 312 names marked the end of the day.


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