His gifts mean the world to those left behind. When a law enforcement officer dies, so does a little piece of every man and woman in uniform.
"We're a brotherhood," Cary police officer Arthur O'Brien said. "Even though we're off-duty, we still have to look out for one another, and we have to look out for each other's families."
O'Brien left the New York Police Department a month before Sept. 11, 2001, to work in Wake County. In the face of the 9-11 tragedy, he wanted to help families here when an officer dies. He started making shirts and bumper stickers to raise money for their families.
The shirts are sold through liasions in the different departments. They also are sold at
Lawmen's Safety Supply
in Southeast Raleigh. The shirts are each a little bit different and have special things commemorating the specific officer.
O'Brien's latest shirt is for Wake County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Tucker, who was shot and killed in February. O'Brien and Tucker worked together in the Fraternal Order of Police.
"There was something about him," O'Brien said. "When he talked to you, it made you feel like you were important. It felt good when he talked to you."
Tucker's son, Matthew, said O'Brien's shirt "shows me how much people care, and it shows how many hearts my dad touched."
Matthew said he is proud so many people want to honor his father by wearing the shirts.
"To hear how many people have bought the shirts, how the first shipment was gone in less than a month, he (O'Brien) had to go re-order more, and he's still ordering more," Matthew said. "It's just incredible."
An incredible reminder of lives spent protecting others.
In total, O'Brien has raised about $10,000 for the four families he has helped. All of the profits go to the survivors.
He said he is committed to making the shirts and gifts anytime a Wake County officer dies in the line of duty.
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