On November 4, 2022, Homicide Bureau Detective Danny Morales and his brother, Northside Sergeant Brandon Espinosa, founded a nonprofit called Bleeding Blue Inc., and since then, they have donated $130,000 to 22 law enforcement families, raised through fundraisers such as 5K runs, sports tournaments, prayer vigils, and t-shirt sales.
“We have a lot of events that are being planned as we speak,” said Detective Morales, 27, a six-year veteran, during a recent interview. Both men come from families with legacies of police work. “My stepfather is a retired police officer, and my mom has to deal with three cops in her family, so she knows what it’s like. We get a lot of support in our fundraising efforts from our Homicide Bureau members, and from other law enforcement officers, and outside agencies.”
Years before they set up the nonprofit, Sergeant Espinosa, 31, a ten-year veteran, realized that there was a dire need to help officers, especially those who sustain injury outside of the line of duty, because they are not eligible for certain coverages.
“When I was first promoted, more than four years ago, we had an officer in our district, Intracoastal, who had gotten into an accident off duty, and I started asking around, to find out if there was anything that we were doing for him,” Sergeant Espinosa said. “So, I got together with my brother and we made a challenge coin, and donated the money we raised through that to him and his family.”
Through the years, he and his brother would do small projects for other officers, but in 2022, when there were several incidents that befell officers in the department, the brothers felt the need to bring some structure to their efforts to help out.
Officer Matthew Larsh was critically injured in a traffic accident in April 2022. He was driving his motorcycle heading to work when an SUV veered into his path. Four months later, 29-year-old Detective Cesar “Echy” Echaverry was shot by a suspect on August 15, 2022, and died two days later. Then in November 2022 Officer Damian Colon was shot in the head by a stalker, leaving him permanently disabled. Echy and Officer Colon were close friends of the brothers.
“When Echy passed, we had our first organized campaign,” Sergeant Espinosa said. When Officer Colon was shot, the brothers did the necessary paperwork with the state of Florida and the Internal Revenue Service to create their nonprofit. The expenses to organize the events are covered through donations, and the rest of the donations go directly to the families. The brothers, and their team, do not receive any money. The Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT) was founded in 1989 as a support organization for the law enforcement community of Miami-Dade County, and is a federally recognized charity that has raised millions in assistance for hundreds of officers and their families to “help offset financial burdens associated with illness, injury, disability, and death.” Bleeding Blue is independent of POAT. The brothers said that POAT does tremendous work that has benefitted hundreds of families, and is a much larger organization than theirs. They make sure that their fundraisers do not conflict with anything that POAT does, or any other organization, and they participate in that organization’s events.
“Giving credit where credit is due, they do amazing work. What differentiates us is that we have a platform because we are giving back to people who we work alongside, it’s very personal, and we can also fill in some of the areas where these other organizations can’t,” Detective Morales said. “The hours that go into it are insane, considering that we both have full-time jobs.”
In October 2023, Anthony Caabeiro, a rookie 22-year-old Hialeah officer, was killed in an off-duty motorcycle accident in Homestead, and that department immediately reached out to Bleeding Blue to ask for assistance for the officer’s family and funeral expenses. Bleeding Blue launched a T-shirt sale and sold over 550 shirts generating over $9,000 for the officer’s family.
They also created a memorial challenge coin and organized a bike night in collaboration with the Hialeah Police Department at a restaurant in Hialeah, where they raised money through raffles. That moved their donation amount up past $15,000.
“We come from a family of law enforcement, our stepdad, who raised us, was an officer in Hialeah for 30-plus years,” Sergeant Espinosa said. “So, we grew up in this world of the thin blue line, of taking care of the guy next to you, going to police memorials and stuff like that, so now we are here on this side and we see the gaps that maybe some people don’t see from the outside, we see people that unfortunately fall to the wayside, and we say, “hey, how can we fix this.”
For more information on the organization, please visit: www.bleedingblue.info
Originally published at https://www.miamidade.gov/global/news-item.page?Mduid_news=news170684014381847