I am the founder of Thin Blue Line Memorial Crafts. I am from Waldorf, Maryland, have been married for 26 years, a mom of three kids (21, 14 and 13), and work full time night shift as a Police Dispatcher at Charles County Sheriff’s Office. I come from a Law Enforcement family. My Grandfather, Father and Uncle were all police officers in Washington, DC as well as a few of my mom’s cousins. I had hoped to be an officer too, but nerve damage kept me from it. I discovered Dispatching in 1999 and never looked back. I learned to crochet when I was 11, at the elbow of our neighborhood Grandma, Mrs. Sargent. She taught me the basics, but I didn’t start reading patterns until 2007, and I have only just begun on the writing side.
On December 21, 2014 we lost one of our officers in an on-duty car accident. He was on his way home from night shift, and had actually stopped by our Communications Center to bring breakfast to some of my fellow dispatchers. Corporal Jamel Clagett was 30 years old, he hadn’t married or had children. All I could think of was his poor mother, with nothing left of him to hold onto. So, I picked up my yarn and made her a shawl. My sister made a shawl pin to go with it. My hope was to bring her some comfort, she could wrap up in it and maybe feel like we were all giving her a big hug.
On March 13, 2016, Prince George’s County lost one of their officers in an active shooter incident at their station. Corporal Jacai Colson was 28 years old, the first police officer in his family. I knew they must be devastated to lose their son. I made his mother a shawl, I didn’t deliver it directly to her myself, but I did go to the funeral. I came home that day and was discussing the funeral with a friend, who suggested I start making them for other families. I started Thin Blue Line Memorial Crafts that day, created the Facebook page and began looking for patterns and asking permission from designers to use their patterns.
My hope with the Facebook page was to get others making the shawls, send them to me, and I would send them out as needed. SO, as Items come in, I put tags on them and prepare them for shipping. Local deliveries get put into fancy boxes, mailed items get put into tulle bags, and each item gets a little info card for the family. I have now added Instagram and even a website ! You will also see on Facebook the memorial pictures I post, these are made by Rose Borisow Grafx , she is a Montgomery County MD officer. She makes the graphics for every Line of Duty Death, and takes requests for others for a small fee. She will make prints of these memorials too.
For now, the family of every Officer killed in the Line of Duty is sent an item, until I either run out or the end of the year comes. I also take requests for other types of loss, the number of officer suicides just keeps climbing (228 in 2019), as do the number of officers dying from 9/11 related illness (12 this year). 2019 marks the first year I have been able to get an item to every family and a few extras on request from previous years, officers lost to suicide, and officers battling an illness. 2018 I was short 12 items, but when December 31st comes, I have to stop for the year or I would drive myself crazy.
Thanks to many crafters last year, I had shawls on hand ready to go. Bobbi Smith is a dispatcher in Texas that has sent close to 100 shawls to me. Michelle Thomas found and adapted the knit shawl pattern we use and has also started making blankets too! There is also a hat pattern, and a blanket pattern made with squares and bulky yarn (so you can just send me squares to attach together). I also have done some Thin Red Line items for Firefighters, and Thin Gold Line for Dispatchers.
We started our first chapter in 2019, Lou Thiel a resident at the Moosehaven Home in Orange Park FL has been taking care of all items needed in Florida and Georgia for officers and firefighters. My husband has been a fabulous supporter, mostly by putting up with me and helping to get things shipped out. The Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office, Diane Richardson, arranged for the county paper to come and interview me, and got the local news to do not one, but two stories on my efforts. You can see the videos here :
Lots of exciting things are happening! I look forward to more progress and growth in 2020, so come check out our page and join us if you like!