About the Foundation
The Assist The Officer Foundation provides financial assistance to first responders who are facing the loss of income due to a serious injury, life-threatening illness or other catastrophic event. Immediate assistance is also available to an officer’s family in the event of the death of an active officer.
Since its creation in 1999, the foundation has provided assistance to thousands of officers and their families who were faced with any number of different life-altering situations.
Growing and Changing
In 2004, the ATO Foundation inaugurated an unprecedented confidential counseling service tailored exclusively for Dallas police officers. The burdens of daily life can affect nearly anyone, but when compounded by the inherent danger and stress of policing, life can become truly overwhelming. Our counseling program was meticulously crafted through a collaboration of dedicated police officers and experienced professionals, all working harmoniously.
Today, the ATO Foundation has broadened its confidential counseling program to encompass all local first responders, effectively addressing the dynamic demands of an ever-evolving world.
Honoring Our Founders
Officer Carollo served as Vice President of the Dallas Police Association and was instrumental in establishing the Assist the Officer Foundation. An 18-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, Officer Carollo was killed in a head-on car wreck as a result of a drunk driver on April 5, 2003 at the age of 46.
His passing was a tragic loss to his family, his fellow officers and the entire community, and his legacy of heroic dedication to his duty and commitment to others will continue to be a source of inspiration for the countless people whose lives he touched.
In 1994, David Rodriguez’s life changed forever. David was a Dallas Police Detective, who on that fateful January day, was shot and paralyzed from the waist down running a drug warrant. After a lengthy period of rehabilitation, David found himself unable to perform his duties and was forced to retire.
David did retire – but he didn’t stop working. He recognized the need to help his fellow officers who found themselves in similar circumstances and helped create the Assist the Officer Foundation. Through David’s efforts, Dallas police officers can get much needed assistance when faced with catastrophic injury or illness.
Eddie joined the Dallas Police Department in 1977 and served as a DPA Vice president since 1988 before his retirement from the Department in the summer of 2011. Eddie is an original ATO board member since its 1999 creation. "As with any great tragedy opportunity follows. Through David Rodriguez’s horrible injury we were able to discover an opportunity to provide necessary scaffolding to officers and their families during times of need. The formation of ATO was an opportunity to create a legacy that will outlive us all. Every time ATO has the opportunity to provide the assistance these officers deserve we ensure that David's sacrifice, like so many others, will never be forgotten. I am honored to have been a part of this awesome collaboration with my friends and colleagues."
Detective Popken is one of the original and founding board members of the ATO. While serving as the Vice President of the Dallas Police Association, Tom was approached by Bill Carollo and David Rodriguez with the concept for the foundation. Recognizing the needs for officers seeking assistance, Tom immediately joined the efforts of his colleagues to help create the organization. Later, when Officer Carollo was killed, Detective Popken took over as the new Chairman of ATO—serving as the Chairman from 2003 to 2009. "Our goal as founding staff and board members is to ensure the organization survives beyond any of us". Tom Popken retired from the Department in the summer of 2013 and is enjoying his retirement in the Centennial State.
Christopher Kevin James
Christopher Kevin James is the only sitting board member of the Dallas Police Association (DPA) to be killed in the line of duty—he was shot outside of a nightclub while working as a uniformed off-duty officer. Kevin was a Board Member of the DPA when Assist the Officer Foundation was developed. Kevin’s tragic death is a constant reminder to us, and to those we seek donations from, of the dangers officers face every day. In November of 2007, the DPA and ATO Board of Directors launched the Kevin James Endowment Fund to honor the memory of their friend and fellow officer.