CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Since Amber Oberheim’s husband died, she’s accomplished a lot. Fundraising for the Peacemaker Project 703, talking with law makers to advocate for police officers and stepping up for other families.
“In some moments it feels like yesterday, in some moments it feels like a decade ago,” said Amber Oberheim.
But that doesn’t mean Amber is immune to the harsh realities the month of May holds. It’s a yearly reminder that her husband, and father to her children, is gone. “It’s an up and down rollercoaster of emotions,” said Amber.
She says going to National Police week in Washington D.C. was tough. “One moment we can be having the time of our lives and laughing with the people that we love that are here, and the next moment we are smacked in the face with reality,” said Amber.
But she says it was an experience that showed her and her girls, they can be resilient. They can come together. And they could get through the hardest year of their lives. “I feel like getting through that first year like every day on the calendar and surviving through that is some way shape or form empowering just to know that okay we made it through every day on the calendar one time,” said Amber.
Amber says since they have gotten through the year once, they can do it again. It’s an accomplishment. But the Oberheim’s are not stopping there. “Our most exciting accomplishment recently has been adding Obie, our therapy dog and my daughters have been making visits with Obie around the community with an officer,” said Amber.
Peacemaker Project 703 has been visiting schools in the area. “The officer will read a book about Obie and then Obie gets all kinds of love from the kids,” said Amber.
Amber continues to advocate for police families and being present in terms of holding officials accountable when it comes to law enforcement.
While in Washington D.C., Amber had conversations about legislation with Congressmen Rodney Davis. “Defunding our police is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard as a member of Congress,” said Davis.
Davis said his life-saving experience with law enforcement fuels his passion to advocate for the betterment of peace officers. “I owe my life to two brave police officers who ran toward gun fire on a baseball field just a few years ago, so that me and my teammates could run away from gunfire,” said Davis.
Both Davis and Amber said they believe the high number of officer deaths across the country is in part due to the change in rhetoric towards police. “When you have a society that tries to disrespect our institutions like our men and women who protect our communities every day then it leads to that lack of respect, which leads to confrontation and in the cases that we’ve seen it sometimes leads to death,” said Davis.
“I absolutely attribute the high number of officer deaths specifically related to gun violence, street violence, or murder really, the murdering of police officers to the shift in really paradigm shift if you will for how our nation is viewing law enforcement,” said Amber,
Amber recognizes that COVID did play a part in the number of officer deaths our nation saw in 2020 and 2021, but overall, she believes there is a disrespect for authority. And since she has been a part of the law enforcement community, she says she has seen the shift in the public attitude toward cops.
“It wasn’t like this 20 years ago when Chris started working as a police officer, it was completely different,” said Amber. She said around 2010-2012 is when she saw things take a turn… but she believes two years ago is when the behavior and rhetoric towards police officers changed.
“We don’t have a police problem. We don’t have a black problem, or a white problem, or a Hispanic problem or a religious problem, we have a human problem,” said Amber. Amber believes if people aren’t held responsible for their actions, then the high numbers of officer deaths and community violence will continue.
“We aren’t going to get anywhere except more and more names on the wall that we went and visited yesterday, we will not without some degree of respect for authority and law and order in our country we won’t make it,” said Amber.
Which is why amber has partnered with people like Davis to work toward better laws that protect officers so they can do their jobs. And it’s why she says she wants to hold law makers accountable, to prevent another officer death. So no other families have to go through the gruesome and emotional year they have been through.