Photos by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press
Sometimes it takes the innocence of a child to drive home a point, and that’s exactly what happened at a Peace Officer’s Memorial service in Johnson City Thursday afternoon.
The event, sponsored by a new support group called Support Wives and Girlfriends, was the first in many years for the Johnson City Police Department. In most cities, such services are somber affairs designed to remember fallen officers in that particular jurisdiction.
And while that did happen Thursday, the brief ceremony also focused on the appreciation felt by children of several city officers for what their fathers do on the job.
C.J. Crow, 8, is the son of Officer Stephen Crow, and his admiration was apparent Thursday.
“I am grateful for the policemen that help the city. It means a lot to me because they keep us safe. I want to thank my dad for taking the risk for our safety,” C.J. said.
His sister had similar affection for her police officer dad.
“I’m happy my dad has a job as a policeman. He saves the world. That is why I love him so much. My dad loves his job very much,” 7-year-old Emma said.
David Keller, 8, son of Investigator Matt Keller, said he wants to grow up to be a police officer like his father.
“I’m glad that my dad fights crime and protects the city from danger. I would like to be a policeman when I grow up.”
“My daddy makes the world safe by taking bad people to jail,” another child said.
Garrett Hodges, son of Sgt. Andy Hodges, said police officers like his father help people and they drive tractors.
“They are heroes because they save people. All policemen like tractors. I’m glad my daddy is a policeman because he drives police cars,” he said.
Another child said, “My daddy’s job is to save people from getting hurt or littering.”
And to drive the point home of how dangerous an officer’s job is, one child said, “My dad helps our city. I am thankful my dad keeps everyone safe. I thank God that he survives when he is at work so he gets to come home to me.”
The event began with a flag-raising ceremony by a JCPD four-officer honor guard. The American, Tennessee and city flags had flown at half staff through the day Thursday in remembrance of officers who died in the line of duty.
Police Chief Mark Sirois said the flag raising was to honor those officers who are still on the force and risk their lives each day to protect the public.
Sirois talked about how the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., bears two names of Johnson City Police Officers who died in the line of duty. First was Chief George F. Campbell, who died in 1914 while responding to a domestic violence call.
In 2007, Officer Jim Smith died as a result of injuries he suffered in an on-duty motorcycle crash six years earlier.
“They left behind family, friends, and colleagues who mourned for them, but also a legacy of courage and a challenge for others to carry on their work,” Sirois said.
“Not only do we honor these heroes today, but also, those men and women who protect and serve our communities every day. Because of what they do in enforcing the law and maintaining peace and order, our community owes them a great debt of gratitude and support.”
Follow Becky Campbell on Twitter @CampbellinCourt. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BeckyCampbellJCPress.