It has been almost two years since Forest Acres police officer Greg Alia was killed on duty, and his widow, Kassy Alia, has fought tirelessly since to redirect the divisiveness she sees in the community and the tensions Officer Alia felt as a police officer.
In an in-depth interview with Midlands Anchor, Alia discusses the connection of both national and community issues to the mission of Heroes in Blue, the non-profit organization she founded after her husband’s murder. Through Heroes in Blue, Alia is committed not only to demonstrating an appreciation for the compassionate and courageous acts shown by law enforcement daily, but also to bridging the gap between police and community through empathy and action and to providing immediate support to families in response to tragedy.
“I have to be honest, leading up into this weekend, I’d feel sad regardless. It is, and will continue to be, an incredibly painful part of my life and a really grim anniversary. But I feel especially sad, given what’s happening in our nation,” Alia said, referencing the NFL “take a knee” controversy and incidents of police and community conflicts. “The date of September 30 is something that is heavy on my heart… I just felt compelled, like I need to do something.”
This year, on the anniversary of her husband’s death, Alia will be joined by community leaders, guest speakers and Governor Henry McMaster to to call for compassion and change for the Midlands. The rally will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Carolina Statehouse.
Alia told Midlands Anchor one of the reasons she felt compelled to host a rally was to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and community organizations. She discussed a statewide survey Heroes in Blue conducted with law enforcement. “94% (of respondents) indicated they agreed or strongly agreed that community policing was very important to their work, but only 29% felt that they had the resources that they needed to actually help those who are in need,” Alia explained. She discussed that law enforcement officers frequently come in contact with people who are homeless, mentally ill, living in extreme poverty, or have some other need that they attempt to fulfill.
Guest speakers at Saturday’s rally include Governor Henry McMaster, Pastor Juan Ibara, Chief Kevin Cornett of the Springdale Police Department, and Alia herself. Heroes in Blue, Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, Cayce Department of Public Safety, Cayce Public Safety Foundation, ABLE-SC, SC Law Enforcement Torch Run, Harvest Hope, The Harriet Hancock Center, Columbia Police Department, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Forest Acres Police Department, PASOs, Homeless No More/St. Lawrence Place, The Spring Valley High School ROTC, Cayce Women’s Club, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Sound & Images, West Columbia Police Department, USC Muslim Student Association, and House of Harley Radio will also attend and participate in the rally.
The rally is free and open to the public and will include an interactive art display and valuable information from many of our community leaders. If your organization would like to be a part of the Compassion in Action Rally, please email Ashley Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“When Greg died, I felt called to take action against the divisiveness between police and community relationships. With every opportunity I’ve had, I spoke out in an effort to call for empathy, for compassion and for change,” said Alia. “Nearly two years later, that message remains more relevant than ever. I hope you will join us on September 30th to learn more about what you can do to bring compassion and change to our community.”