Businesses and individuals throughout Monroe County went out of their way to show gratitude for law enforcement Thursday on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
“We’re fortunate here in Monroe County that we’ve got the majority of the public’s support, unlike a lot of other communities,” Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing said. “People here respect us. They understand the job we’re doing, and they want us here.”
Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was first observed in 2015 after several organizations like Concerns of Police Survivors and the Fraternal Order of Police founded the day to honor police officers.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department received a free lunch supplied by Gallagher’s Restaurant, doughnuts from Smiles R Forever, a meat and cheese tray with crackers from Human Support Services and cookies from a resident of Garden Place.
Rohlfing said many people also took the time to share messages of appreciation on social media.
“Thank you,” one such message from Angie Broske said. “You are appreciated and kept in prayer daily.”
HSS and Smiles R Forever donated those same items to the Waterloo Police Department, which also received Imo’s pizzas courtesy of Shelby’s Automotive Repair and cookies from Servpro.
Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise said his officers consistently get “thank you” messages from the community, and this support was an extension of that.
“We are really fortunate to have the backing from our community,” Prosise said. “It makes the officers feel supported.”
The Columbia Police Department also received a cookie tray from Servpro in addition to a free lunch from Integrity Healthcare of Columbia, cookies and baked goods from Parkview Elementary School and Domino’s pizzas from an anonymous Columbia resident.
The department also received numerous thank you cards.
“It was a really nice day as far as all the appreciation goes,” Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul said. “I just thought it was a wonderful day.”
Paul saw some of that generosity firsthand, as he was about to pay for lunch from Joe Boccardi’s for a meeting he had to attend when the owner refused to let him pay.
Paul said the tab was several hundred dollars.
The Columbia school district also released a video on its Facebook page showing students praising school resource officer Zack Hopkins of the CPD.
“I feel safe, and he brings this positive energy,” one Columbia High School student said of how he feels knowing Hopkins is on the job.
A common theme among the students was that Hopkins is friendly, approachable and always has a smile on his face.
“I feel happy and safe because he’s a police officer, and I know he’ll protect us,” one young student said.
For Paul, all these gestures were unexpected because he was only familiar with National Police Week, which takes play each May.
“It was a very nice surprise,” he said.