Letter from the National Director
by Natasha O’Dell Archer, J.D., National Director
The old joke about military families is that if the military thinks you need a family, you’ll be issued one. My dad was an air force officer, and my mom was a teacher for Department of Defense Dependents Schools. I was born at Yokota Air Base in Japan, which today houses the Fifth Air Force—14,000 military personnel plus spouses and children. My family lived there until I was two-years-old and then was back for a second tour during my formative years. If you’re thinking of the “military brat” story, you got it right. Five cities, four schools and three countries later, I ended up in the Washington, D.C. area for the home stretch of high school. My father was dedicated to his job and his family, and also happens to be the sweetest dad you could ask for.
There is a sacrifice of circumstance that military families take on. Of course, the greatest sacrifice is that our loved ones put their lives on the line to protect us all. The same is true for law enforcement officers and their families.
That really hit home for me last month when I attended the Blue Mass during National Police Week. Many of you have made the trip for Police Week and know firsthand that it’s a very special occasion. In 2012, I was honored to take part in the 18th Annual Blue Mass for
fallen law enforcement officers from the national capitol region.
As I stood in the pews at Saint Patrick Church, I clutched the ceremony program and a personalized card I was given which read: Officer Deriek W Crouse, Virginia Tech University Police Department. End of Watch, December 8, 2011. The chaplain called the roll, and as instructed, I said aloud the word “Present.” Standing for Officer Crouse was a powerful feeling not only of emotion, but also the responsibility of honoring his service and his family’s sacrifice.
We are safe in our communities because of these law enforcement heroes. It’s not enough to just be grateful. As a civilian, I believe we owe them more. Whether it’s the act of mentoring at-risk youth after school, helping a family in crisis or providing assistance to victims of child abuse and neglect, we can honor the legacy of our fallen officers and all who sacrifice for our communities by helping to prevent future tragedy and improve lives.
None of us are capable of undoing the wrongs that have been done. But can we make the days that come after better? We can. What we have in common is that we’re all hard-wired to make a difference by helping others. That’s the calling we have for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and the positive impact we are able to make for kids as law enforcement leaders and survivors of violence.
After almost two years here at Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, it’s been a pleasure working with great leaders and developing strong friendships with many of you, and I hope that I can continue to develop many more. I want to express my gratitude for your willingness to join in this cause for a simple reason: you do it to give back, whether anyone is keeping score or not. Taking the time to speak up on behalf of at-risk kids through a letter to the editor, in a meeting with a policymaker or at a press conference can help change the odds for those kids and for public safety.
I look forward to working together with you to help ensure that our communities are safer and that every child has a chance to succeed. Thank you.