AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A local nonprofit is giving back to first responders by offering the chance to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Angling With Officers is only a year and a half old but founder, Jack Winters, has already been working with the Aurora and Denver Police Departments, taking officers out for a worry free day on the water.
“Just to get ’em away from what they’re doing, just to get ’em and let ’em forget about what’s going on in their job — and out here is a perfect, perfect way to do it,” said Winters.
Winters reached out to Bass Pro along with Cabela’s. Both stores agreed to fund much of the gear needed to sustain the non-profits’ goals.
“It’s been a wonderful adventure,” he said.
On Friday, Winters headed out to Chatfield with the Denver Police Department for another memorable day.
“This is a bottom bouncer and what it’s purpose is, it’s gonna scrape along the bottom of the lake which attracts the fish. They hear that coming.”
Winters was showing Officer Ed O’Connell the setup that would catch him his very first fish.
“Hopefully I can catch at least one fish so it doesn’t look like a total loss!” laughed Officer O’Connell.
Officer O’Connell has been on patrol with Denver police for only two years — but it has been busy for him.
“I was two days short of my one year mark when I got shot,” O’Connell said.
It was just before 4 a.m. on October 28 when O’Connell was shot in the leg. O’Connell arrived to the scene at 10th Avenue and Xavier Street. The gunman had shot his mother, then turned the gun on police, striking O’Connell.
While O’Connell says he was initially angry, his instinct was to help the young man who shot him.
“I told him if he does his time, if he plead guilty too, that I’ll put in a good word for him when he gets out.”
During the numerous court proceedings he attended, O’Connell also became friends with the shooters mother.
“Meeting his mom, just kinda started talking and stuff and ya know it’s been real hard for her.”
O’Connell describes her as “an amazing lady” and when he can, he drives by her home to check on her.
“It’s pretty cool now I drive by her house and she sees me and she flips her lights on and off so [I know] that she’s home and stuff.”
It’s a gesture he didn’t think to tell anyone else about. He says he always wanted to be in law enforcement and help people. Despite getting shot in the line of duty, he says he still has a need to help people.
“We deal with people all the time in some pretty bad situations and we try and help ’em walk through it.”
For Winters, providing a stress-free day of fishing is the least he can do to say “thank you” to the officers for their service to the community.
“It’s been my honor, really been my honor, to take ’em out fishing,” said Winters.
Angling with Officers has plans to expand. Next year Winters plans to have a tournament and hopes to pair Aurora Police with Denver Police, to compete against Commerce City and Douglas County.