COWLITZ COUNTY, WA (KPTV) - The community outpouring of love and support continues to grow for Cowlitz County Deputy Justin DeRosier, who was killed in the line of duty over the weekend.
A lot of agencies, organizations, community members and business are coming together to support the DeRosier family and the sheriff’s office.
One of them is the Behind the Badge Foundation, based near Seattle.
When they heard the news of Deputy DeRosier’s passing, 20 members packed their bags for Kelso to offer support. They were invited to come by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, and they plan on staying in town for a week-and-a-half to lessen the burden on local agencies.
“We were actually at our annual fundraiser [when we heard the news] and it’s usually a time of celebration, a time of honor, a time of reflection,” Brian Johnston said. “We were just finishing up and we got this word and it became a very emotional time for all of us because as the 600 people in attendance were having a good time, there were about 20 of us getting ready for what we know is a life-changing event for the people down here.”
Johnston is the Board President of the Behind The Badge Foundation and the team leader for its Line of Duty Death Response Team.
He’s also a Sergeant with the Monroe Police Department, and his team is full of people who have personal experience with line-of-duty deaths, including active and retired law enforcement, staffers and civilians.
Right now, their biggest jobs are to help the DeRosier family in any way they can, and to take the family’s lead in planning a public service with all the specific honors and traditions he deserves.
“We have a moral duty to do as the family wishes, to make sure that this service that’s going to come is focused on the family needs and focused on the deputy that Justin was, but also the man that he was,” Johnston said.
While their work continues behind-the-scenes, there are flowers and candles both inside and outside the Hall of Justice in Kelso, a building that houses both the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and the courthouse.
“It’s tragic but it’s heartwarming that we see communities pull together during these times,” he said. “You’re not in this metro-plex where there are millions of people. You have people who know each other, who see each other every day – it’s not just a sea of faces, there’s a lot of understanding of family here.”
The support from the Behind The Badge Foundation won’t only come in these first few hours and days – it will last for years as their team rallies around DeRosier’s loved ones to help them walk through the loss they’re facing.
“The initial shock and trauma and disbelief and dismay and heartbreak, to realization of what is next? Or what does the next year look like without their loved one? What do the next five years look like?” Johnston said. “We have other survivors that come alongside together in fellowship and help them carry on through the years.”
Plans for a public service for Deputy Justin DeRosier should be coming in the next couple of days.
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