A church in Hickory, North Carolina honored 19 members of the Long View Police Department earlier this month by holding a special service in which they provided gifts to the officers.
Open Door Baptist Church, led by Pastor Shaw Davis, gifted each officer a $100 Visa gift card and the entire department an appreciation plaque. Over 300 people in attendance gave the officers a standing ovation.
“We prayed over them and asked for God’s blessing, safety, and protection,” Pastor Davis said. “We let them know we appreciated their service and courage.”
“We need the police department,” Davis said. “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch.”
Open Door Baptist Church now intends to hold an event honoring law enforcement every year.
Pastor Davis told The Christian Post that they decided to hold the special service after meeting with Police Chief T.J. Bates. Bates expressed in that meeting the low morale of his officers in today’s cultural and political climate.
Low morale isn’t isolated to the Hickory Police Department. Months of nationwide protests – in which bricks, molotov cocktails, and fireworks have been thrown at police officers, and demands to defund police departments have been insistent – police departments all over are experiencing low morale.
In just the first two weeks of protests that began in May, 749 officers were injured responding to the large crowds that often turned to violent means of demonstration.
In August, an NYPD officer told Fox & Friends, “You would be crazy to take this job at this day and age.”
“When I became a police officer many years ago,” the unnamed officer said, “I never thought that I would have to put this uniform on and be looked at as the enemy and to be hated.”
In June, LA police officer Robert Harris told the Washington Post, “I’ve had members say they feel like a Vietnam veteran returning home to a country that hates them.”
LA Assistant Police Chief Robert Arcos, who was an officer during the 1992 Rodney King riots, said that the “level of violence was the worst that I’ve seen in my 32 years.”
The National Police Foundation has reported that 86% of departments across the country are experiencing a shortage. Dean Esserman, former police chief, blames the shortage on coronavirus budget cuts and the low police morale after months of protests that have been boiling with anti-police sentiment.
Who, after all, would want to be a police officer in an environment where protestors graffiti a Portland park with statements like “Please don’t feed the pigs”, “Porkland police”, and “walk over cops, bike over cops, run over cops”?
Officer Adam Fowler of the Seattle Police Department sat down with King 5 News in August to discuss the August 16th riot outside of the Seattle Police Officers Guild. Six officers were injured in that riot, and 18 people were arrested for throwing fireworks and other projectiles at police.
In the emotional interview, in which Officer Fowler was sporting a black eye from the riot, he expressed that it hasn’t been the rioters wearing on his emotions:
“What’s wearing is the current political climate in Seattle,” he said. “I feel isolated. I feel like the police department’s on their own in the city, and that’s a daunting feeling, and a heavy weight, and a heavy burden to carry.”
Pastor Davis, back in Hickory, North Carolina, hopes that his church community can be a “positive voice” for their local law enforcement, and he hopes other churches will step up and do the same.