McCluskey said he became a member of the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation in 1993 after being injured in the line of duty while serving as a correctional officer at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County.
“The motto of the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation is to ‘Take Care of Their Own.’ They seek out the families of correctional officers who have been injured or killed in the line of duty and help the families with their immediate needs,” McCluskey said. “So when I was injured in 1993, a state representative from the CPO Foundation contacted me to see if I needed any assistance, and I’ve been working with them ever since.”
McClusky said he didn’t need any assistance from the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation himself, but he soon learned the organization was very special and very much needed, so he began helping in any way he could.
“The Correctional Peace Officers Foundation is a national nonprofit charitable organization that has two basic goals: one to sustain, support and assist the survivors of a correctional officer killed in the line of duty; and the second, to promote and project a positive image of the correctional officer to the general public and within the profession itself,” McCluskey said. “When the Foundation was organized in 1984, most large law enforcement groups had benefit organizations available to assist their members, but that was not true of the corrections profession.”
McCluskey said at that time, there were more than 350,000 correctional officers nationwide, and the establishment and implementation of a support network was long overdue.
The organization had to be one that would not only assist the correctional family in a time of need, but also understand and attend to the unique and specific needs of a correctional family, as opposed to other law enforcement professions.
Thus, the Correctional Peace Officers (CPO) Foundation was born. With steady growth over the years, the CPO Foundation now also operates an extensive Catastrophic Assistance Program to assist correctional officers and/or their families in times of emergency, personal crisis or other critical need.
“In 1990, the Foundation began hosting an annual four-day gathering for Correctional Officers and families called Project 2000,” McCluskey said. “The focal event of the initial Project 2000, and of every Project 2000 gathering held since, has been the National Memorial Service held to recognize those men and women in the corrections profession who lost their lives in the line of duty in the preceding year.”
McCluskey said surviving family members are invited as honored guests of the CPO Foundation and Honor Guards from correctional facilities or departments across the nation participate in the memorial service.
Seminars, support group sessions and hosted meal functions are also offered during the Project 2000 gatherings.
But many participants, including McCluskey, consider the last of all the events — the Sunday Prayer Breakfast — to be the most memorable and special of all events held during the gathering.
Through the years, McCluskey has been to various places all across the country with the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation, assisting families of fallen comrades and helping with fundraisers.
“I felt very honored to be recognized during this year’s gathering,” McCluskey said. “It’s a wonderful organization, and I’m very proud to be associated with everyone who is involved in this very worthy cause.”
If you would like more information about the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation, visit www.cpof.org.