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Sgt. Michael Johnson's family says they don't need their photographs to remember him; they think of him every day.
But these mementos keep him close -- a reminder of happy times.
"This is Mike and Kerrie and the kids -- that's his pride and joy right there," his sister said as she flipped through old vacation photos.
"This is on the Jersey shore, with Michael making his silly faces as always."
It's been five years since Johnson , a Vermont State Police Sgt.,was killed during a police chase on Interstate 91. His sister Patti Wolff said after his death, she wasn't sure she'd ever feel happy again.
"It's a tough loss," she said. "And I don't know how we got through it, but COPS sure helped us."
COPS is an acronym for Concerns of Police Survivors -- a support group that helps the families of fallen officers. The group also coordinates Police Week at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and plans retreats for surviving family members. Wolff has gone to the siblings' retreat every year.
"It offers us counseling, it offers meeting people who have gone through what we've gone through," she said. "I remember last year we were doing something silly in one of the groups and I remember thinking to myself, how many of us thought we would never laugh again?"
Now she wants to give back. Johnson's wife, sisters and sisters-in-law are raising money for the group, participating in a 25-mile walk in Washington, D.C., in October.
"Michael was a very giving person and I think that's what he'd want," said Chrissy Johnson, his sister-in-law. "He'd want us to go and give back to all the people that have helped us, to give back to all the other families that are still out there protecting us."
According to COPS website, nationally about 150 officers are killed in the line of duty each year. The Johnson family hopes their survivors will have the support they got -- and still get even five years later.
"I wish we didn't have to use it and I wish no one would have to use it again," Wolff said. "Unfortunately, we'll have to continue to use it and it's just nice to know it's out there. For me it's just a safe constant, I know they're going to be there."
WCAX

 
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