Police crowded Belo Garden Park after two snipers opened fire. (Photo by Matt Botts)

Police crowded Belo Garden Park on July 7 after at least one gunman opened fire, targeting police officers. (Photo by Matt Botts)

The City of Dallas is shellshocked and heartsick — you’ve likely felt it too. Powerless to stop last night’s violence, and wanting to do anything possible for officers suffering and their grieving families, Lakewood neighbors on the Friends of the Dallas Police board have partnered up with The Dallas Foundation and the mayor’s office to create a fund that will support those directly affected by the tragic shooting that left five police and transit officers dead and another seven wounded, along with two civilians.

“The police department was fielding a lot of calls from people wanting to make donations,” says Brian Bessner, a lifelong Lakewood resident and Woodrow Wilson grad who sits on the Friends of the Dallas Police board along with neighbor and Bryan Adams grad Mitch Paradise, who chairs it. “They had no way of handling those requests.”

The Friends have a longstanding partnership with The Reeds PRC, a local public relations firm that helps plan events so the board can focus on raising funds. Bessner says Reeds event manager Vicki Wait reached out to the police department early this morning to see how they could help, and quickly saw a need for a safe and secure place for people to donate funds. The Dallas Foundation provided the infrastructure for online donations, so all of the funds given to the Line of Duty account can go directly to the officers and their families.

“This is a trustworthy place to give,” Bessner says, pointing out that donation scams often occur after such tragedies.

The Friends group exists to show community appreciation for the hard work of the Dallas Police Department. Every November, they host an awards banquet with Reeds honoring officers for bravery in the field, as well as recognizing those killed in the line of duty.

“Fortunately, that doesn’t ever hardly happen,” Bessner says of officers being killed. “This next banquet will be an important one.”
This year’s banquet is set for Nov. 1, open only to police officers and their families as a night for remembering and celebrating. Friends of the Dallas Police are seeking sponsors to help offset the cost of the event, keeping it affordable for all officers to attend and honor their five lost brothers in blue.

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