Residents Show Support for Local Police
Aug 22, 2016 04:15PM ● Published by Chris Larson
Citizens across the country have opened up their hearts, wallets and pantries to show their support for local police departments.
The past few years have seen increased scrutiny and increasingly vehement rhetoric toward police departments across the nation in the wake of recorded acts of police brutality.
In recent weeks, this has culminated in open targeting of police officers in slayings in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
But here in Salt Lake County, many residents are turning the other direction and saying they appreciate the services provide by local police departments. Mainly, in the form of food.
Sandy Police Sergeant Dean Carriger said over the past several weeks cakes, doughnuts and a “whole lot of ‘thank-yous’” have reached the Sandy police.
“I think, over the years, we’ve maintained a great relationship with the community,” Carriger said, despite, as he further noted, the regular ups and downs of policing a community.
For South Jordan Police Lieutenant Matt Pennington, recent acts of kindness and support demonstrate that, at least locally, the majority of citizens support the police and are appreciative of service provided to the community.
“There’s that maybe 10 percent (of the community) that get the run,” Pennington said. “It’s good to see in these times that there is still so much support of law enforcement.”
Pennington alluded to police slayings in Dallas and Baton Rouge as prompting the outpour of support to his department.
Recent criticisms of the police, Pennington said, are another “swing of the pendulum” in the development of policing. He paraphrased the 19th century United Kingdom prime minister Sir Robert Peel — who is considered by many the father of modern policing — in saying “the police are the public and that the public are the police,” meaning that increased dialogue, transparency and community involvement is key to improving policing.
“When (police) make a mistake, (they’re) put under a microscope,” Pennington said.
Pennington also said that continued outreach programs like citizen’s academies and youth explorer programs will continue to give more chances for police to engage with officers in positive settings.
Sandy City Police Department has the oldest Youth Police Explorers program in the state.
In June, Sandy City Police concluded a youth explorer academy with Salt Lake City Police Department and Coeur d'Alene Police Department.
Cottonwood Heights Police Sergeant Ryan Shosted said several individuals have come into the office to share small tokens of appreciation like food or handmade crafts from children.
“We obviously really appreciate it and just the open support is great,” Shosted said.
However, several departments the City Journals contacted said citizens rarely leave contact information or accept recognition for their actions.
“It shows a lot of humility on their part,” Shosted said. “Most of the people simply don’t want the attention.”
Such humility and kindness is not dissimilar, Shosted said, from the actions of good police officers is his department. Shosted said it’s not uncommon for police officers to do extra to serve the community that no one will ever know about.
Shosted said he recently became aware of an officer that mowed the lawn of an elderly person several months ago, but the officer didn’t mention it to anyone until several months later when there was a call involving the same area.
“When I was first hired and I was called to an attempted kidnapping or a (domestic disturbance) and later found out the guy had a knife to his partner’s throat or something like that … my next thought was ‘Where am I going to get lunch?’ not ‘Oh my gosh, I just saved someone’s life,’” Shosted said.
Pennington said that an anonymous citizen split the cost on food purchased at a local Domino’s Pizza franchise for the department. One of the pizza boxes had a message that read, in part, “Thank you for all that you do and the risks you all take to try and make (South Jordan) a better place to live.”
The South Jordan Police Department Facebook post detailing the message and delivery went viral with over 10,700 likes and over 1,600 shares.
The South Jordan Department also received food deliveries from a local Wal-Mart and Nielsen’s Frozen Custard, in addition to numerous reports of citizens offering food and drinks and kind words to officers individually.
Unified Police Department Spokesman Lex Bell said there has been a “tremendous” outpouring of support and acts of kindness from citizens across Unified Police precincts, mostly in the form of food both homemade and store-bought.
“They know we are super busy and we need to eat and may not get the chance to sit down and eat,” Bell said. “They do it so we can keep doing our jobs and not slow down and worry about eating.”
He sees giving food as a way of showing appreciation to a lot of people at once.
Bell and Shosted said that officers particularly enjoy cards or colored pictures from local children and have many posted throughout police facilities.