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June 22. 2013 11:01PM

Nonprofit hopes to inspire public with screening of police documentary

DURHAM - Despite having served 17 years on the job, it wasn't until five officers were shot last year, including one fatally, that Sgt. Eric Bourn understood how terrifying it could be for his wife and family.

Bourn and his wife, Alison, who live in Somersworth, decided to start Police Families United to help officers and their families after Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney died in the line of duty while helping serve a warrant at a residence.

Alison Bourn, who is president of Police Families United, said they were at a basketball awards banquet when last year's shooting occurred.

"This started a whirlwind of activities, with him rushing off to work and me being left at home with the baby. Fortunately, I was able to get together with a friend, whose boyfriend had also rushed off for the same reason. We kept each other company, watching the news and learning the details," she said in an email.

She quickly realized there were dozens of families going through the same experience, but had no means of connecting.

"Their officers rushing to help each other, leaving the families behind, finding their own ways to cope and try to support one another," she said, adding, "I found that it was somewhat awkward and difficult to be as supportive as I wanted to, as the families were mostly strangers to me. I talked to my husband about it, and he found the same thing."

Bourn, although never been involved in a shooting himself, said he's had a lot of close calls.

Police across the Seacoast were very close, he said, but the Greenland shootings brought their community together and made everyone realize what could happen on any day.

While the program started with University of New Hampshire police, it quickly gained members from other communities, Alison Bourn said.

To increase awareness further, a screening of "Heroes Behind the Badge" will be shown Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Johnson Theater-Paul Creative Arts Center, 30 Academic Way, on the University of New Hampshire in Durham. It is a documentary about seven officers, some of whom were killed in the line of duty.

Producer Bill Erfurth, who served for more than 25 years with the Miami Dade Police Department, will introduce the film and answer questions about the production after the viewing, Mrs. Bourn said.

She said the film showing is a way to bring police families together while raising money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). Half of the proceeds will benefit the NLEOMF, she said.

Tickets are available in advance at heroes-unh.eventbrite.com/ for $15. At the door, tickets will cost $20. Parking will be in "B" lot, on McDaniel Drive.

"This inspiring documentary will change the way we look at the men and women of law enforcement and highlight the unselfish acts of bravery they commit each day in the line of duty. Its stories will be powerful, emotional, insightful and educational," Mrs. Bourn said.

She said the film "reinforces to America the fact that a law-enforcement officer is killed in the United States every 54 hours."


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