Community invited to ‘Thank a Police Officer’

Thank a Police Officer Day is one day a year, but one local woman hopes it creates a “shift” in how communities interact with their local police departments.

Andrea Baumann of West Fenwick Island said she started the Delmarva Supports Law Enforcement Facebook page in 2015 because she had been doing “kind of a slow simmer” regarding what she saw as disrespectful attitudes in communities toward law enforcement.

“I felt like it was time to have something in this area, a little voice,” in support of police officers, she said.

This year, Thank a Police Officer Day events will be held throughout the area on Friday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 21.

In addition to the Facebook page, Baumann brought the national Thank a Police Officer Day to Delmarva. Last year, officers from eight or nine of the 14 counties in the three states on the Eastern Shore were recognized by their communities in some way on Thank a Police Officer Day, she said. In all, 80 departments were “adopted” and celebrated as a result, either by individuals or groups.

“We went out and asked people to adopt a police department; we asked school children to make cards… It kind of took on a life of its own,” she said. Now, the day brings groups of school children to police departments, serenading them and bringing them food. It brings support in the form of the “Thin Blue Line” flags flying in honor of police officers.

“People do all kinds of things,” she said.

Baumann said that, for her, respect for police officers comes from her father, who, as an immigrant from Hungary, found in the United States a law-enforcement culture that could be trusted, which she said was not the case in his native country.

“That was one of the things that stuck with me,” she said.

Law enforcement officers — and their families — deserve all the respect a community can offer, Baumann said.

“They deal with unspeakable tragedies that most of us can’t even imagine,” she said. “They do things that few of us are cut out to do.”

Baumann said that the rise of social media has been both a blessing and a curse when it comes to people expressing their thoughts about law enforcement.

“It gave us a platform” through which to share positive information about police departments and their interactions with communities, she said. It also brings forth armchair analysts who criticize police, often unfairly, Baumann said.

“It’s very easy to judge and analyze,” she said.

With the Delmarva Supports Law Enforcement page, she said, she merely hoped to provide a place for positive reinforcement.

“They’re tough people,” she said. “They don’t need me.”

Of Thank a Police Officer Day, she said, “It’s one day, but it’s also kind of a cultural shift,” which she said she sees as a good thing.

Gavin Smith, a local teen who lives in Ocean View, has for the past two years organized events at two area police departments. This year, the public is being invited to the Ocean View Police Department on Friday, Sept. 20, from 4 to 5 p.m. and to the Dagsboro Police Department on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to noon.

“We will be showing our thanks to our wonderful officers who watch over our community,” Smith said in a Facebook post. “This is sure to be a very special day,” Smith said, during which the departments will receive “cards and goodies” given to the officers.

Baumann said there is really no limit to the ways people show appreciation for local law enforcement agencies — and it doesn’t have to be just on Saturday, Sept. 21, but she provided a list of suggestions, just to get folks started. Here are just a few ways to show gratitude to a local police department:

• Treat a station to fresh bagels, doughnuts and coffee from a nearby business one morning during the week.

• Write encouraging notes of support and deliver with a cake that week.

• Create goody bags for officers including useful items, such as hand sanitizer, packages of trail mix, protein bars, etc.

• Have lunch or dinner delivered to an agency on the 21st — keep in mind most will have two shifts.

• Contact an area radio station, explain what this day is about and ask them to do a segment honoring local police.

• Fly a blue-line flag.

• Organize a thank-you banner signing in a neighborhood, at a clubhouse, library or office. Display it for several weeks and invite the public to stop by and add notes of appreciation.

• Change porch lights to a blue bulb to show support of those who serve.

• Assemble a snack station at a department that morning, offering a variety of fruit, energy drinks, etc. This can be enjoyed by the entire staff throughout the day.

• Organize a classroom thank-you letter writing project. Hand them out during a visit to an area agency.

• Order pizza for one of the shifts at the sheriff’s departments or police barracks — check with them for best delivery time.

• Host a first-responder appreciation event at your church.

• Baked goods and delicious treats are a wonderful idea. Please remember to check with a department first, however, for guidelines on the type of items they can accept.

• Art classes love creating cards for this event. Contact a nearby station to plan a delivery during the week.

• Organize a campaign for writing thank-you notes at work, civic group meeting or office.

• Display a blue ribbon at home — decorate a tree, light post, etc.

• Print flyers explaining what Thank a Police Officer Day is about, to post storefronts or public places.

• September is still a warm month. Delivery of a couple of cases of Gatorade, waters or energy drinks will be greatly appreciated.

• Write a letter to the local newspaper inviting area residents to join in a group project.

• Pick up the tab for an officer’s coffee or meal when you have the opportunity. Doing so anonymously is a fun gesture.

• Ask public officials to issue a proclamation for a day of gratitude honoring police in your town or city.

• It’s not necessary to visit an agency only on the 21st. A gift basket of treats and healthy snacks can be assembled with coworkers and dropped off anytime that week.

• Involve the whole family in adopting your local police station. Make a giant card with the kids and deliver with balloons and treats.

• Offer free meals to law-enforcement at your restaurant that day.

• Become a neighborhood organizer for a “thoughtfulness campaign,” collecting cards and donations for a delivery of lunch or dinner.

• Giant scrolls filled with positive messages can be a focal point for your next event. Invite people to come by to sign a 6-foot banner and provide markers, colorful pens, stickers, etc.

• A bouquet of blue balloons with a plate of homemade cookies is a terrific idea, just confirm with the agency ahead of time.

• Contact your community TV channel to explain what this day is about and ask them to do a segment honoring local LEO.

 

By Kerin Magill

Staff Reporter