"We've been absolutely inundated with calls and e-mails of people across the country wanting to help and contribute to our Pittsburgh Fallen Heroes Fund," said Sandy Lazzara, president/CEO of the $45 million GPPCU
The three murdered officers, killed in an ambush, included two members of the CU, but Lazzara said, "all three were in here many times and we knew their families as well." The CU quickly become a central point in the city for fundraising after Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl directed contributions to the CU.
In his public comments and Internet releases, the mayor suggested the GPPCU handle the memorial fund because of its close contact with department personnel and its ties to the Pittsburgh chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"This is all about people helping people and for us this is something where we want to be there to help the brotherhood," said Lazzara, adding the deaths "have shaken this city to its roots."
Lazzara fielded questions on city fundraising and efforts to help the families at a April 6 news briefing held in her office. "We just loved those guys, and this is so very sad, but the people of Pittsburgh have already opened their hearts," said Lazzara, mentioning the bond that police CUs hold with their members.
Scott Arney, chairman of the national Police Officers Credit Union Conference Committee and president/CEO of Chicago Patrolmen's FCU, said "The tragic events that have unfolded in Pittsburgh and Oakland in recent days serve as a stark and very real reminder to all of us that police officers put their lives on the line everyday in order to keep us safe."
"For those of us who work for and on behalf of police officers, we need no greater motivation to take our work seriously and to give our best at all times for the benefit of our police officers," said Arney.
The Chicago CU president said his work as president of a local police foundation has also helped push forward creation of the national Police Memorial Fund, which raises donations to help pay transportation expenses for officers and their families to attend funerals and assist the bereaved.
"That fund," said Arney, "helped pay for expenses of officers who wanted to go to Oakland," following the March 21 deaths of four Oakland, Calif. officers.
Separately, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association posted its own notice of the police deaths on its Web site (www.pcua.coop) listing the names of the officers and the dates for services and the funeral.
"Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Greater Pittsburgh Police FCU following Saturday's tragic shootings that killed three Pittsburgh police officers and wounded a fourth officer," said PCUA.