There is nothing that rattles the soul of a police officer quite like the disturbing news that one of their own has lost their life in the line of duty. It is a known risk all take when they sign up for the job, but the reality is everyone hopes and prays it is not them that has to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
With great sadness on Friday March 29th the Illinois law enforcement community learned the devastating news that Illinois State Trooper James Sauter was killed on I-294 after a collision with a semi-tractor trailer combination. The details of the event are unclear and unknown at this time, but what is clear is the pain his family must suffer while coping with the tragedy.
There are no earthly, temporal remedies to make this situation better. However, the law enforcement and trucking communities rallying together to financially support the family of Trooper Sauter will speak volumes. As this organization consciously straddles the divide between trucking and enforcement, it has become clear that the industry is highly supportive of police operations and has deep compassion for the dangers of the job.
It was after the tragic loss of ISP Trooper Deatherage in 2012 that the ITEA realized there was piece of the benevolence puzzle missing when a police officer loses his or her life in the line of duty. The shock and devastation felt by surviving family members and the victims agency leave little in the way of human resources to devote to logistical items like fundraising. It is apparent, however, that the first few days after the tragedy is when most people are most willing to open their hearts to contribute. Yet there are few avenues available to meet that end.
The ITEA will champion this cause until a formal memorial fund can be established by the family of Trooper Sauter. The ITEA will continue to stand in that gap for future Illinois police officers who pay the ultimate sacrifice. There are many localized benevolent groups doing great works in their communities and the ITEA applauds those efforts. But what happens when there is a tragedy that transcends local boundaries? Who is organizing those efforts? There is a need and the ITEA has the ability to meet that need. The ITEA will seize that opportunity to shoulder the weight of this task.
The amount of money is not what is important. It is not a financial problem we have. Americans are incredibly wealthy and resourced in comparison to the rest of the world. More importantly, we are a extremely generous people. Unfortunately there is a logistical problem in that people who want to contribute at the peak of their own sorrow and grief do not have an outlet. What is needed is a convenient and rapid way to mobilize charitable efforts for fallen officers within the first 12-24 hours from the time of the incident.
The ITEA has the infrastructure, resolve and dedicated people to make this happen. It was available after the loss of Trooper Deatherage, but the method to utilize it was still unclear. In response, the ITEA began the process of establishing the ITEA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) to answer this call. Unfortunately the death of Trooper Sauter came before that process was complete.
At the time of this publication, the ITEA has received $925 in addition to the $500 the ITEA seeded the initiative with. Thank you to those who have so generously given. Please keep the family of Trooper Sauter in your prayers.