Bob is an educated and successful married man who orders up an online escort. When the escort shows up, Bob gets more than he bargained for. The police are called and a multi-state investigation ensues.
Special Guest: Detective Robert
Detective Robert has been in law enforcement for over 18 years. He spent nine years on patrol, where he served as a field-training officer (FTO) and an FBI-trained hostage negotiator. He was subsequently promoted to corporal and later to detective. As a new detective, he worked in the crimes against children unit, which investigates sex crimes, serious physical abuse and child homicides. He was later re-assigned to the violent crimes unit, where he continues to serve. He is an active member of his county’s major crimes team, which investigates homicides and officer-involved shootings.
Yeardley: [00:00:07] Hey, Small Town Fam, how are you? How are you all doing? Are you in a city or state that still locked down? Or, are you free to move out, all masked up? Whatever your situation, we at Small Town Dicks, very much hope that you continue to be well and safe. Today, we have a great pay-it-forward bonus episode that came about during a conversation between our own Detective Dave and the actor and comedian, Kevin Pollak. We thought that since we’re at the tail end of National Police Week, which honors police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty and May 15th, today, is actually Peace Officers Memorial Day, that this would be the perfect time to share it with you. So, please settle in for Cover Now. We are so happy you’re here.[music]
Yeardley: [00:01:07] Small Town Fam, I have with me the usual suspects. I have Detective Dave.
Dan: [00:01:11] Good to be here.
Yeardley: [00:01:13] Good to have you. And I have Detective Dan.
Dave: [00:01:16] Always a pleasure.
Yeardley: [00:01:17] Always a pleasure to see you. And not actually in the booth with us, but via technology, through this thing called an ISDN line, we are so thrilled to have with us, the one and only Kevin Pollak, my dear friend.
Kevin: [00:01:33] Please be seated.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:01:37] Kevin, of course, currently starring on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which just got picked up for Season Four. Huzzah!
Kevin: [00:01:45] Yay. Woo-woo!
Yeardley: [00:01:46] Yay. And Kevin’s friend and colleague, CEO and founder of the nonprofit, Cover Now, Jeff Stine.
Jeff: [00:01:56] All right. Thank you. Humbled to be here.
Yeardley: [00:01:58] Jeff’s going to tell us all about Cover Now. It serves first responders. We did an episode, as you know, Small Town Fam, called Mother’s Day, which got a lot of really positive response. And Dan had talked about, in particular, an episode where he tended to a fallen officer, and it affected him deeply. We’ve talked about on our podcast about how lots of these first responders have these really traumatic episodes. While help is available, it’s not a culture where help is often encouraged. As Dave said, “Suck it up, buttercup,” that’s really more the mandate. With all that in mind, Jeff, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background, who you are, why you started Cover Now, and then how you roped that knucklehead, Kevin Pollak, into the mix?
Jeff: [00:02:48] Yes, that should be the fun part, talking about Kevin. [Yeardley giggles] I went to the police academy in ’95, in Southern California. I’m medically retired. And about just over a year ago now, I started Cover Now. We’re the law enforcement emergency fund. The reason we chose Cover Now is in Southern California, it really came out of Southern California, when a police officer needs help, he or she gets on the radio and they scream, “Cover now!”, as opposed to a bunch of codes and everybody knows, to come running that an officer needs help. So, that’s why we chose that term for the organization.
[00:03:23] The catalyst was, it was really weird. This is just about a year and a half ago, I needed a challenge. I started doing push-ups with my 16-year-old son. I thought, “Maybe I’ll go for the world push-up record. [Yeardley giggles] It’s only 2482 in one hour. Maybe I can beat that.”
Yeardley: [00:03:43] What?
Jeff: [00:03:43] Yeah, I started doing it. It’s from some Belgian guy, and he’s 52 years old. I thought, “Man, I can maybe get him a run for his money.” I thought, “Well, since I’m doing this, maybe I should raise money for something. There’s got to be some law enforcement foundation out there that I can raise money for so I’m not just doing it merely for my ego.” I couldn’t find any. There were some law enforcement foundations, but none that were giving finances to law enforcement officers or families. As I did a little more research, I found out that we had no national foundation. Unlike the military, which last year, they brought in $1.7 billion in foundation money, which, of course, is needed. The military definitely needs that for nonprofits. But law enforcement combined in the United States of America, brought in less than $25 million last year. Just to give an understanding of what that looks like, wWe have about two million servicemen and women in the United States in our five branches of our armed forces. We have about a million police officers. They brought in $1.7 billion, we brought in about $25 million. Wounded Warriors alone brought in $425 million last year, which again is an amazing organization. It’s absolutely needed.
That’s the catalyst for me, starting this and then putting an amazing team on board together to try to solve a big problem. The two components that we take care of are on-duty catastrophic injuries, which is at epidemic proportions today. We’re estimating somewhere between 18,000 to 20,000 catastrophically injured police officers at any given time in the US. And I’ll explain more about why help is needed there. And then the other component is law enforcement families left behind by suicide, which is also at epidemic proportions. For those families, all over the country, and it’ll change from one department to the other, but they’re literally given a final paycheck, and that’s it. And if an officer does not have any type of life insurance, which the mass majority do not, those families really suffer financially along with the emotional suffering, as you can imagine.
Those are the two areas that we’re going after, because that is the biggest need. Line of duty deaths are really taken care of in a great way across the country. So, we don’t deal with line of duty deaths, but line of duty injuries is where the massive need is. We wanted to do something more than just bring exposure, but actually try to solve a problem. So, we give emergency financial relief to officers that are catastrophically injured, and then law enforcement families again left behind by suicide.
Yeardley: [00:06:20] What is the actual definition of a catastrophic injury?
Jeff: [00:06:24] Yeah, well, we had to kind of define that. An officer that is injured in the line of duty where they cannot work.
Dan: [00:06:31] Ever again, in a lot of cases.
Jeff: [00:06:33] In a lot of cases, they won’t ever work again, but just the background on the catastrophic injuries quickly. Officer gets in a vehicle accident while on duty, and they have spinal cord damage, they can’t walk. The way it works in America is, back in the 1950s, the law enforcement community, and again, this is pretty much around the 18,000 agencies in the United States, they’re all autonomous. They don’t have millions of dollars standing by just in case one of their officers gets catastrophically injured. When they can’t work, they’re turned over to insurance. We call it workmen’s comp in law enforcement. What happens is that police officer now has to get a lawyer and go after the insurance company to get them to do what they’re supposed to do. That’s when the real nightmare begins for these police officers. Most of them are completely unaware, unless it happens to them or happens somebody close to them in their police department.
Yeardley: [00:07:30] Can I ask why or how you come to be medically retired?
Jeff: [00:07:35] That’s a long story, which would take a long time.
Dan: [00:07:38] We’ve got to work on a short version, Jeff.[laughter]
Dan: [00:07:41] Yeah, let me help you do a little punch up.
Jeff: [00:07:43] What I would say is, with regard to that, sometimes police officers go through traumatic events, and their departments will retire them for those traumatic events, and that’s what I’m comfortable with saying about that right now.
Yeardley: [00:07:55] Very good. It’s extraordinary that there’s no national organization to look after law enforcement. How long ago did you do this?
Jeff: [00:08:06] We’ve started this about two years ago now, but we have been an organization just at a year. Let me say, there are a lot of amazing law enforcement foundations. There are none that hand finances, money out to officers or families. But Concerns of Police Survivors, one of the biggest, they do a great job, The Wounded Blue in Nevada does an amazing job, and offering peer support type programs, psychological services, preventative maintenance. But actually saying, “Hey, here’s a police officer or family that needs help right now, or they’re going to lose their home or their vehicle, and it’s going to uproot their lives,” there’s never been a national foundation that does that. But there are amazing law enforcement foundations out there.
Yeardley: [00:08:56] The other need that you identified was helping families out after officer suicide. Talk to me about that.
Jeff: [00:09:03] Yeah. I had a friend of mine in the police academy commit suicide, and he had about 10 years on at the time. It was pretty devastating, as you can imagine. Seeing the family years later, and seeing the financial turmoil they were in, I learned a lot about that process. This is kind of a blackeye on law enforcement, in my opinion. Again, every agency is different, and that’s the thing. There’s 18,000 of them. So, I do not want to in any way through all law enforcement agencies under the bus. But I would say, by and large, and we’ve helped several families where an officer is taking their own life, what happens many times is unlike line of duty deaths, and because of the lack of understanding for posttraumatic stress injury, it’s not a disorder, but it’s an injury that occurs just like any other injury, takes its toll on officers and many of them have taken their own lives.
[00:10:02] Of the 18,000 agencies in the United States, less than 5% of them have any type of posttraumatic stress training. By and large, there is nothing for those families. What happens is many times, again, the spouse, and most of the time it’s a female spouse, gets the final paycheck. And then after that first month, they lose, depending on where you’re at in the country, $4000, $5000, $6000, $8000, $10,000 a month, it’s just gone. The financial needs are real along with the emotional damage and scarring from that horrific event. So, we wanted to do something here. We don’t offer a lifetime benefit, but really to get the family back on their feet so they’re not uprooted, they don’t have to move out of their home, those types of things, which we’ve seen.
Dave: [00:10:55] On my newsfeed, just because of some of the organizations that I’m a part of, Police1, those types of organizations, we routinely get these articles that are posted about another on-duty suicide, where police officers will be up in their police car or at the station, up in the locker room, and they commit suicide while they’re in uniform. I don’t know, Jeff, if you can talk about, is there some sort of perception that if I’m on duty when I commit suicide, that that’ll be covered by a workmen’s comp or a line of duty death type situation?
Jeff: [00:11:29] Dave, that is an amazing question, and it is one that continues to baffle me. When I started my career in ’95, we did not have police officers killing themselves inside of their units. That just did not happen. I’d never even heard of such a thing. And now more and more doing it. Now, the question is why are they doing it while they’re in service, while they’re working their shift? I don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is, we don’t have any attempted suicides by police officers, while working that have lived to even ask them. Is it a FU to their organization? Do they believe somehow that they’re going to be covered in a greater way if they do that and it’ll be looked at as a line of duty death? I don’t know. It’s a good guess that that may be what it is. But again, that one specifically is hard. Now, law enforcement officers committing suicide and how to stop it, I don’t want to be so bold as to say we have the answers but I think we have an understanding where others don’t. We weren’t going to get into that preventative side starting Cover Now, but it’s kind of fallen our lap.
[00:12:42] And now, there’s a lot of organizations that have asked us to speak and give our two cents, because we’re actually dealing with the families in the aftermath of this, finding out what the officers were doing, what they were thinking and the reasons why they committed suicide. We do think we have some insight there, and how we can really stop this or slow it down, reduce the numbers, if you will. But again, it’s hard to get to 18,000 agencies.
[00:13:10] Back in the early 90s, President Bush ordered the Joint Chiefs and it started from there to the five branches of the military to receive posttraumatic stress training, scientific training to understand what goes on. I would say the military is about 20 years ahead of law enforcement on this understanding in how to reduce that number. But it’s so hard because we don’t have five branches, we have 18,000. Even if you start at the academy level, you have 50 states, there’s 50 different organizations that govern each law enforcement state. So, it’s hard to reach them and get everybody on the same page.
Dave: [00:13:45] Certainly.
Yeardley: [00:13:46] After you’ve spoken to these families of officers who have taken their own lives, do you find that there are commonalities as to why they took their own lives?
Jeff: [00:13:56] Yes. This is probably going to be a little controversial, because it’s not talked about. Law enforcement agencies started peer support programs. Peer support programs have their place. When it comes to an officer that is suicidal, they’re not as powerful. And here’s why, there’s an elephant in the room that nobody seems to know or see. I heard the Chicago Police Chief earlier this year, good man, but he had so many police officers in one month– I don’t remember the number. It was like 9 or 11 of his officers killed themselves in one month in Chicago. I listened to his Twitter, and he put out a video. In New York, same thing, and it was almost identical messages to their police officers, which is, “You need to talk to somebody, you need to talk to somebody, you need to talk to somebody.” I was listening to it, and I just thought, “They don’t get it. They don’t understand.” Nobody wants to figure out what the real problem is and how to solve it.
[00:14:56] This doesn’t discuss why police officers committing suicide, but how we begin to stop it, Dan and Dave, you guys will know better than anybody here. If you go to anyone in your department, even your chaplain and you tell them you’re ready to eat your gun, you’re ready to kill yourself, or that you even attempted, you know what’s going to happen next.
Dave: [00:15:17] Mandatory report.
Jeff: [00:15:19] That’s right. That badge and gun are getting taken away, now rightly so from an organizational standpoint. But what we have to figure out in America is, do we want to stop police officer suicides? And if we do, it can’t be done in house, and here’s why. If I’m the police chief, and Dave, you come to me and you say, “I’m suicidal,” however you say it, I cannot put you on the street because you’re a danger to yourself or others. Dave knows that. Dave’s not going to come say that. So, that’s one of the major problems that has to be addressed. Police officers know they can go to peer support and say, “Hey, I’m having family struggles. I’m having financial issues. I saw something at work. I had a SIDS case where I gave CPR to a baby and the baby passed.” Peer support is great for those. But when police officers to the point where they’re suicidal, and we can tell you this, because we’re dealing with it all the time, nobody knew because the officer never said a word. So, that’s the number one thing.
[00:16:20] The second thing what we found is in talking to so many families is as police officers, we’re in control of everything. That’s what we do for a living. We figure it out, and we do it quickly. When a police officer gets to the point where they’re suicidal, you can’t just tell them, “You need to talk to somebody.” They’re not going to do it, you have to teach them something that they don’t know so they go, “I don’t know. And I can learn and I can grow.”
Dave: [00:16:42] The stigma that comes with admitting that type of thought, or that you’re vulnerable, and you’re having these thoughts about harming yourself, the stigma, to a police officer would say, “That’s unrecoverable. I can’t come back from that. I’m going to lose my job. I lose everything. I lose my reputation. Everyone that I work with is going to look at me differently.” You’re not incentivized to come forward in that situation. You eat it, and you keep it to yourself. And it’s a huge problem.
Jeff: [00:17:11] That’s exactly right. And if I may, after I got out of law enforcement, I got a seminary degree. I was talking to a large group of pastors several years ago, and pastors in the United States, suicide was on the rise for them. Who knew?
Yeardley: [00:17:29] Suicide is on the rise for pastors also?
Jeff: [00:17:31] Yeah, if you can believe that.
Yeardley: [00:17:33] Oh.
Jeff: [00:17:34] Yeah. So, I’ll just make this point quickly, just to give the listeners a better understanding. For police officers, they’re always held to a high standard. Pastors are the same way. For pastors, the big thing is immorality. If there’s things that are immoral, I can’t be a pastor anymore. So, pastors that are stuck in some sort of immoral situation, but they don’t want to lose their career, they try to figure it out themselves.
[00:17:57] When I was talking to these group of pastors years ago, this is how it correlated with what we’re dealing with now with law enforcement officers is, as I talked to the pastors, and I said, “Just by the sheer numbers of you guys in the room, some of you are cheating on your wives. Some of you have molested a child. Some of you are–” again, for Christian pastors, in most denominations, homosexuality is wrong. I said, “Some of you are struggling with that. I want you to know something. You are trying to figure this out yourself,” because we were specifically talking about suicide, “And you’re not going to be able to, many of you. So, here’s what I want you to know. Here’s my phone number. I’m your friend, I love you. And I know what you’re thinking, that’s not enough right now. So, let me be more specific. When you come to tell me that you’re doing these things, engaging in these activities, I’m going to give you a hug, I’m going to tell you, I love you, and I’m going to tell you to preach your ass off on Sunday. And then, I’m going to come sit in the front row and watch you to do it.” After that event, I had five different pastors reach out to me that I did not know. All of them confessed to these types of things. And I began working with them in the preceding months, and four of them are still pastors and not doing those things any longer. But they were all suicidal or depressed, and didn’t know what to do.
[00:19:15] For police officers, it’s very similar. It’s very similar. There’s a high standard. When they are at the point where they’re suicidal, I don’t just mean depressed or sad, having a tough time, or even turning to the bottle, like so many officers do, which is completely understandable for the crap that we have to see and deal with. But if they don’t have an outlet, and they know they can’t go to their buddy or their sergeant or peer support and say certain things, then they’re going to be dealing with in their own heads or we’re going to lose more officers.[music]
Dan: [00:19:53] Hey, this is Detective Dan from Small Town Dicks. I want to thank you all for listening. You, Small Town Fam, make this podcast possible. So, I’d like to ask you to consider becoming a patron to help support future seasons of Small Town Dicks. Your small monthly donation, the cost of a single cup of coffee, and maybe a doughnut, will help cover operating costs, traveled to and from the small towns we highlight and golf lessons for Dave. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes to keep this boat afloat. To thank you for your support, you’ll get access to a whole bunch of goodies, like suspect interviews, 911 calls, insider interviews, and more. To join the Small Town Super Fam, go to patreon.com/smalltowndickspodcast. There’s already some cool stuff waiting there for you. Whatever you choose to do, thank you for being a listener. No podcast fans are better than you.[music]
Dave: [00:20:54] So, your organization was brought to me by Kevin, and I had no idea whatsoever that this was even a thing that you existed. And then, he told me that he was on the board and I was impressed, because you just don’t hear about that stuff where Hollywood’s getting involved with law enforcement type organizations. I mean, the military, they get lots of support, as we said. Kevin and Jeff, can you talk about how you got on board with this and where the vision is, and the kind of outreach that you can do to make the rest of us aware of what you guys offer?
Kevin: [00:21:30] Thank you, Dave. I think your fans need to know what an immense fan of mine you are.[laughter]
Dave: [00:21:37] That is accurate. Honestly, I’ll do a little tangent here. But Dan had been at an event last year, in which Kevin and his wife were at, and Dan knew by affinity for Kevin Pollak, especially his impressions, The Usual Suspects, A Few Good Men, all those–
Jeff: [00:21:59] The best.
Kevin: [00:22:00] Right. Dan sends me a picture with Kevin Pollak, and I was like,–
Yeardley: [00:22:05] “Motherfucker,” is what you were like.[laughter]
Dave: [00:22:08] Honestly, I dropped some F bombs. I’m like, “Son of a bitch. Are you kidding me?” We had this event a few weeks ago, and I’m standing, it was at Yeardley’s house, and all of a sudden, I’m talking to someone, I just turned and Kevin Pollak standing there, and I was like, “Son of a bitch. No way. Are you kidding me?” So, it was just one of those things. And then through conversation, Kevin brought up Cover Now, that’s how this idea of this podcast episode started, is I want to highlight them.
Yeardley: [00:22:37] It’s a great idea. And if it’s possible, Dave became even more impressed with Kevin Pollack as were Dan and I.
Dave: [00:22:46] I got a Christopher Walken impersonation in person, how do you beat that? I was like, “I can die happy.”[laughter]
Kevin: [00:22:54] I always considered men and women in law enforcement ever since a young age as superheroes, in similar literally to the kind I would read about in comic books, in the sense that they protected the town. They suited up, whether it’s a cape and tights, or body armor in the case of officers, and they protect and serve in it. I didn’t ever hear anyone talk about the comparison, or even suggestion that was the case. And I couldn’t think of any other profession where you’re risking your life other than military, of course, on a daily basis, the moment you begin your day of work. So, I would always pass men and women in uniform, dressed in the blues and just say, “Thanks for your service.” I didn’t think, of course, to do reach out and ask, “Is there any way I could help?” Because they always seemed so together and amazing. And in the last year or two, news organizations have become very, very bitter. The old adage, “If it bleeds, it leads,” it’s been around for a very, very long time, but it’s become to a level of gross behavior on those allegedly responsible for sharing the news.
[00:24:20] Too many news organizations on a 24-hour basis, every day is considered, in my opinion, a slow news day. So, they create the news. Or, they take a small story and blow it up. If it’s scandalous, if it’s the so-called bad cops, or in my own profession, there’s a couple of predators that have been found out, and then the whole industry is looked upon as, “Well, who else? Who else is bad”? When Jeff came to me, it was kind of at that time when I was frustrated for the men and women in law enforcement, and what was being reported, because they don’t tell the stories of the great heroics on a daily basis that take place all over the country because that isn’t newsworthy. Jeff, I mean, I can guess that I may have been one of the very few people allegedly successful in showbusiness that he knew.
Yeardley: [00:25:14] How do you know each other?
Kevin: [00:25:15] Through poker. Interestingly enough, one of my great passions. He and his brother became a very well-known business of building very high-end poker tables. In fact, Yeardley, your co-star, Hank Azaria, has had several built by Stine Brothers, was the name of the company at the time.
Yeardley: [00:25:37] Like actual physical tables?
Kevin: Yeah, but very stylized and very high end, and that’s how I first became aware of Stine Brothers tables. And then Jeff reached out a little while back, I don’t know a couple years ago about who’s doing a podcast about really short of self-help and improvement of one’s life. And he’d read my book.
Yeardley: [00:26:00] Plug the book.
Kevin: [00:26:01] Plug the book?
Yeardley: [00:26:02] Yeah.
Kevin: [00:26:03] Yeah, still available on Amazon. How I Slept My Way to the Middle.[laughter]
Jeff: [00:26:08] Amazing book.
Kevin: [00:26:10] Not just a clever title, and still available.
Yeardley: [00:26:12] It’s so good.
Jeff: [00:26:13] It’s so good.
Kevin: [00:26:14] In fact, weirdly, the studio we’re speaking to you from is where I recorded the audiobook.
Yeardley: [00:26:20] Oh, fabulous.
Kevin: [00:26:21] Yeah. It’s a little sidebar. I spoke for just podcast and just talked about this mantra I started 12 or so years ago, “If you’re not creating, you’re waiting.” As actors, as talent, so called, we’re sort of lost to waiting for the phone to ring with either an opportunity or an audition, or whatever it is. Sure, after A Few Good Men, I went from auditioning to getting offers. It’s not a competition, people.[laughter]
Kevin: [00:26:48] But I was still waiting for the phone to ring. 12 or so years ago, I sort of stumbled across this mindset of, “If you’re not creating, you’re waiting,” and it just means create more, be more proactive in your life as well as your career. I’ve been practicing that. Jeff came along and asked about participate in the podcast. And then, shortly thereafter, he called up and started to tell me about this organization, Cover Now fund. One of the statistics that he mentioned to me that hasn’t come up yet that I found stunning, if not staggering, was that suicide rate among officers is three times the number of officers killed in line of duty. I don’t think anyone knows that. I couldn’t even fathom it. It just didn’t make any sense. It spoke to the rise of the problem.
[00:27:40] Once he explained further about catastrophically injured officers and what it means– many of these families, if not, I don’t know what the percentage is going to be 90 at least or single income families. Even if the spouse has a job and the officer’s incapacitated to the point of wheelchair bound, or what have you, they can’t afford in homecare, so they’re quitting their jobs, and doing what they’re can. The more I started to hear, the more it broke my heart, and I wanted to do something about it. And I think he initially came to me just to see if I wouldn’t help promote on social media or the like, I’ll let him speak to that. But before he finished explaining what he had in mind, I think I kind of blurted out, “I want to be more involved than just plugging this on social media.”
[00:28:28] Over the years, if you have any profile in showbusiness, you’re asked to participate in fundraising opportunities. There’s a great one in Kansas City for Children’s Mercy Hospital I participate in every year. Several, too many to ever really stop what I was doing and get involved in just one. After being involved in a great many over the years and feeling a lack of focus, it also came at a time when Jeff came to me with Cover Now that I was ready. I was mature and ready to stop and focus on one, and this one spoke to me for all those reasons. Jeff, what the hell were you thinking when you reached out?
Jeff: [00:29:08] Okay. Sentimental moment. Let me tell you the heart of Kevin Pollak. When I reached out to him, I was raising money at the time. This is before we were an organization. When I saw these needs and I met some of these officers who were in real crisis, financially, I just did what the GoFundMes and all that do. I just started reaching out to everybody I know, going, “Hey, I’ve got a cop that needs real help right now.” So, I texted Kevin and I sent him a link to a video that I did on this officer just to promote it. He answered me right back by text, probably, I don’t know, half hour later, he texted me back. He just said, “I donated right away,” and he said, “Tell me what else I can do.” And then, after the period, he said, “I mean it. Tell me what else I can do.” I wasn’t expecting that. So, I took every advantage of that. And I said, “Well, can I come see you and talk to you?” And he said, “Sure.” We met, I think, about a week or so later.
Kevin: [00:30:20] I’m very busy.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:30:23] Well, I know Season 4, and all that, plus your own podcast, and a book, How I Slept My Way to the Middle.
Kevin: [00:30:29] Right. Also, I just realized, and I let you finish, Jeff, of course, or continue, I don’t think we mentioned covernowfund.org is where folks should go if they would want to know more about it or please donate.
Jeff: [00:30:43] Yes.
Yeardley: [00:30:44] We’ll put that up on our website as well.
Kevin: [00:30:46] Fantastic. covernowfund.org.
Jeff: [00:30:48] When I met with Kevin in his kitchen, he just said, “What do you want me to do? Look, I’ve always had an affinity and a love for police officers, I don’t really know why. There’s nobody really in my family. But when I see them, I want to pay for their meals, I just know they have a hard job. And I’ve always looked up to them like superheroes.” He was telling me this, and I was not expecting this. He said, “Just tell me what you want me to do.” I said, “Well, I want you to be on my board of directors.” He said, “Okay, done, what else?” I’m like, “Damn, I should have had a bigger list.”[laughter]
Jeff: [00:31:23] I just said, “Hey, look, I know how busy you are. Or at least I think I do. So even if you’re on the board, kind of by name only, that’ll help a lot.” And he said, “No, I want to help you build this thing.” I’ve just been overwhelmed since. Kevin has taken complete ownership of this. It’s been amazing. The people that he has access to and is contacted that have equally as large hearts and have plugged us like– Am I allowed to throw out a couple names?
Kevin: [00:31:52] Yeah, sure. Jamie Lee Fitness or most folks know Jamie Lee Curtis.[laughter]
Jeff: [00:31:57] Rob Riggle.
Kevin: [00:31:58] Rob Riggle, of course.
Jeff: [00:32:00] So many of his friends have donated and given auction items for events that we have upcoming. And it’s just been overwhelming.
Kevin: [00:32:08] Yeah, amazing stuff, too. We were focusing on doing a poker charity tournament because it made the most sense. I’ve been doing enough to know that they’re fairly easy to put together. But the big part is getting auction items and prizes and stuff. So, I just reached out to pretty much every famous person I know. Hey, why not? People that I just barely knew, that I worked with only a couple days on Jason Reitman’s movie. Front Runner, Hugh Jackman starred in that. I only had two days with him. We talked a little but we exchanged information because he’s so wonderful. I reached out to him and he said, “Yeah, I’m about to do The Music Man on Broadway. And folks could get two tickets and a backstage hang with me,” and stuff like that. J. K. Simmons said, “If I can’t make it to the poker tournament, I’d like to buy a seat anyways and have a cop play in my seat.” He’s since called and said, “I’ll buy several seats for cops.” So, that’s sort of our plan, and a lot of great other amazing people have stepped up in a way that is humbling, but people have rallied instantly to this cause and that’s encouraging.
Yeardley: [00:33:18] I love that.
Dave: [00:33:19] It’s refreshing to hear from a cop’s perspective, because right or wrong or self-inflicted or not, we make ourselves or we are easy targets for criticism. To have people supporting police, especially such a worthwhile cause from Hollywood and the like, and for cops, thanks. We appreciate that. There’s nothing else I can say other than thank you. We don’t get that kind of support every day. We get a lot of one-fingered waves and colorful language when we pass them. So, it’s nice.
Jeff: [00:33:57] Dave, that’s why all our firemen buddies said that we always wanted to be firemen, because we get to pass out stickers and the kids wave at us. Then, they turn into teenagers and then that’s when they flip us off.
Dave: [00:34:07] Exactly.
Jeff: [00:34:07] You’re right. We don’t get that a lot. It really is a thin blue line, and it really is. What I’ve found is incredible is that the American public– and Hollywood celebrities or American public also, they have a heart for three things that I see majorly. If you look at foundations, it’s sick and injured children. And there’s so many, so many incredible organizations for children with cancer. Make A Wish Foundation was started by two police officers. There’s so many of these organizations. So, it’s sick and injured children, our nation’s military, and our first responders, our police officers. Just throwing our hat in the ring, they come out of the woodwork. Private businesses, grant money, private individuals, and of course celebrities. It’s because of their love for our nation’s law enforcement, and we’re seeing that now.
Yeardley: [00:34:58] That’s incredible.
Dan: [00:35:00] Going through what I went through, and we talked about it in our Mother’s Day episode, was I was not aware of a lot of services and resources that were available to me. One good thing that we can do with this podcast is raise some awareness that people are actually cognizant of, “I have other options here, and I don’t have to do this alone.” I’m humbled that you guys are involved in this and that you started it. I’m completely on board. If there’s anything that we can do as a podcast to promote you, we obviously will.
Jeff: [00:35:33] Thank you so much for saying that. And from one police officer to another, here’s what I want to tell, especially the law enforcement community. When I first started this, I had law enforcement foundations saying, “Don’t go after the cops for money, because they’re not going to give it to you.” We have literally, I think, there’s about 15,000 POAs, police officers associations unions, for your listeners, around the country, and they all have a little bit of money, and some of them a lot of money. And we’re told, “No, they’re not going to give.” And why? Because cops are skeptical about everything. They’re more skeptical than the people that are trying to help them. I think they just didn’t know how to unlock that door. We’ve been able to unlock it, and we’ve had great success with POAs around the country helping us. I think it should be known that we have done everything that we know to do right with our finances, with the watchdog groups that oversee us. There are several like Charity Navigator, GuideStar that we have said, “Okay, what do we need to do when people look at us they know their money is being used wisely?”
[00:36:36] Now we have to run an organization, but we putting our board together, looked at every single thing. We are doing our damnedest to keep the finances and the overhead is low as humanly possible. But again, we need to be a national foundation if we’re going to solve the problem. We’re not trying to raise money for one police officer, one family. We have a bigger nut to crack. And it’s about 18,000, and that’s just the catastrophic injuries, not counting the suicides that we’ll have literally every day. We’ll have to every day across the nation. Kevin mentioned that briefly. Three times the line of duty deaths is probably higher. The reason is because there’s an organization called Blue H.E.L.P., they tried to keep track of law enforcement suicides, but you have so many agencies that do not report them at all, and for various reasons that I don’t need to get into now, but they don’t report them. There’s no check the box on death reports for prior law enforcement.
[00:37:29] Even when I looked at the Blue H.E.L.P. website, the police officer that I was in the academy with, he’s not listed there. There was a reserve officer at my department, he was not listed. Not only do we have almost a million police officers– and again, that’s not federal. This is just state and local. Not only do we have about a million officers, we have about another 200,000 to 250,000 reserved police officers, and then retirees. When a retired police officer that has served 20 years or 30 years commits suicide, unreported. We don’t know what the number is. It’s overwhelming. We do not know. Our best estimate is three times the line of duty deaths, but it’s higher than that. So, we are there when those families call us and say, “My partner took his own life,” or if a spouse calls us or a family member, we’re there to go, “What are your needs right now? What do you need to pay right now?” What we need is kind of a model that Wounded Warriors took, where they get the American public involved that are supporting us monthly so when these problems arrive, we’re there right now.
[00:38:34] We don’t care why the police officer took their own life. I could care less. That police officer did a job of protecting the citizens of that community for whatever time they did, and we need to be there for them. So, it’s really about the family with regard to the suicide. We don’t judge them going, “Okay, we’ll help you. But we need to know why they took their own life.” We don’t get involved with that. So, your money is going to people who need it, and I’d say people that deserve it.
Yeardley: [00:39:01] And Jeff, just briefly, I know you don’t give the family’s money in perpetuity. About how long do they get the money, and is there any resource provided to help you get back on your feet for after that?
Jeff: [00:39:14] Yeah. Thank you, Yeardley, for asking that. Right now, we give emergency funds out. Like, what do they need right now? Is it food? Is it a payment? Those types of things?
Kevin: [00:39:27] Funeral costs.
Jeff: [00:39:27] Funeral costs even. Yeah, for suicides, it’s amazing, a lot of departments don’t even cover it. Cops can’t believe it, but it’s true, and we’ve dealt with it. It’s those emergency needs. As we expand, as we have more to give, then we will grow but anything over emergency needs the board approves or disapproves based upon what we have and what we can give at the time.
Yeardley: [00:39:50] Yeah. As you build out, what’s the dream?
Jeff: [00:39:53] Well, I won’t stop doing this until we can handle all of them year after year. The dream is this, there are amazing other foundations as I mentioned, The Wounded Blue is one of them. C.O.P.S., Concerns of Police Survivors is another. We want to act as a clearinghouse for all the different services that so many do offer the counseling and long-term care. What we’re also trying to do, as a side note, for instance, if a police officer dies in line of duty, their children never have to worry about college. They’re going to get free college for the rest of their life, but not the child of a police officer who commits suicide. There are things like that that we’re also working on the side, that we want to be able to offer those families. As we gain more funds, can build a bigger team, we’re going to be able to handle those things. We’re talking to several different food distribution companies. There’s so many of them, like Blue Apron. There’s so many.
[00:40:49] What happens is like anytime somebody passes away, you notice that there’s a bunch of pizza boxes in the house for three days, and that sort of thing, and then everybody kind of disappears. One of the services that we want to offer is pay for the first 30 to 90 days, that spouse and those children don’t have to worry about food for the first few months. So, they order online and that food comes to their door, and this is not something they have to deal with at all. For the families of suicide, we’re talking about 300-400 families a year. It could be larger than that. But if we have a few different companies get on board with that, then we can handle that problem. We want to expand that way.
Yeardley: [00:41:29] Amazing. Dan, Dave, you have anything else to add?
Dan: [00:41:34] For me, it’s pretty simple. Thank you. Thank you, Kevin, for supporting this. And thank you, Jeff, for starting this and everything you’re doing. Really appreciate it.
Jeff: [00:41:44] Dave, Dan, thank you for your service.
Dave: [00:41:46] I appreciate that.
Kevin: [00:41:47] Yeardley, thank you for your service as well.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:41:50] Shut up, Kevin.[laughter]
Jeff: [00:41:54] Dave and Dan, I really thought you were going to say the one last thing is that you wanted an impersonation. That’s what I really thought.
Dave: [00:41:59] I’m afraid to. I don’t want to go fanboy.
Jeff: [00:42:02] You’re welcome for the thank you, if that’s all you want.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:42:06] Come on. I’ll ask. Kevin, come on, dude, pony up.
Kevin: [00:42:11] [imitates Christopher Walken] Let me just say it’s a great honor, of course, to be on this microphone talking to the three of you. [Yeardley laughs] At this time, anyone listening out there if you still dialed in to this particular podcast. By the way, ooh, podcast, fun to say.
Yeardley: [00:42:29] [in Lisa Simpson voice]Thank you, Christopher Walken, this is Lisa Simpson. What an honor.[laughter]
Jeff: [00:42:34] Oh, good.
Kevin: [00:42:35] You keep doing what you’re doing with that saxophone. Dear Lord, beautiful sound.
Yeardley: [00:42:40] [in Lisa Simpson voice] Thank you.
Dave: [00:42:40] How might Christopher Walken pronounce Small Town Dicks?
Kevin: [00:42:45] Well, I’ve been practicing, funny you should ask, in my own private moments. Let’s give it a couple of goes here. It might need a few takes. [clears throat] [imitates Christopher Walken] Small Town Dicks.[laughter]
Kevin: [00:43:01] You know what? I’m going to stick with that one. I think it’s a winner.
Yeardley: [00:43:03] I think that’s a winner.
Dave: [00:43:05] Homerun.
Yeardley: [00:43:06] Oh, my God.
Dave: [00:43:07] So good.
Yeardley: [00:43:07] Thank you so much.
Kevin: [00:43:08] Thank you so much for the support. Again, covernowfund.org. There’s no amount too small. If you have disposable income, do what you can to help. We’re going to be around forever now. And we really are interested in helping in more ways than we even had opportunity to speak about today for the families and men and women in blue. So, if like me, you agree that these people have our backs 24/7/365, this is your opportunity to have theirs. There are times in their lives when they need us too, and it just seems like an obvious give back for, we, the citizens who are protected and served.
Dave: [00:43:49] Thank you very much.
Yeardley: [00:43:50] You’re the best.
Kevin: [00:43:51] Keep up the great work.
Jeff: [00:43:52] Thanks, Yeardley. Thanks, Dave, Dan.
Yeardley: [00:43:53] You betcha.
Dave: [00:43:54] Thanks for your time, fellas.[Small Down Dicks theme]
Yeardley: [00:44:04] So, there you have it. Another slice of snackable content here on Patreon. And just like our regular episodes, Small Town Dicks on Patreon is produced by Gary Scott and me, Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and The Real Nick Smitty. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. And Logan also composed our Patreon theme music. And finally, our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell. The team is forever grateful for your support.