Law enforcement gets its day

Published 4:41 pm Monday, January 9, 2017

Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, submitted this image to post as a way of letting the county Sheriff John B. "Jack" Stutts and his office know how much the schools appreciate their service to schools and community.

Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, submitted this image to post as a way of letting the county Sheriff John B. “Jack” Stutts and his office know how much the schools appreciate their service to schools and community.


It’s times like these, when the weather is awful, that law enforcement and other first responders are still out doing their jobs. That sort of professionalism is honored with an occasion such as Monday’s National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

“We were relatively surprised by the low volume of calls in the past 72 hours. It appears our citizens heeded our warnings, and that it happened on a Saturday when we don’t have to worry about commuters aided us tremendously,” said Lt. Tommy Potter, spokesman for the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.

“People don’t think about that a lot of times, whether it’s a hurricane or a snowstorm like this one, that there are deputies out there, packing up and leaving families to ensure the people they serve are protected,” he said. “I left my house on Saturday at 6 a.m., but I have to be sure my family is taken care here at the house with all the necessary provisions. Not just me, but police officers and deputies made the same preparations.”

The decision was made to double up on law enforcement personnel being on duty. All who were called did so without a single complaint.

“They understand that’s part of their chosen profession,” said Potter. “I see the same thing whether in Southampton, Franklin or Isle of Wight. Day in and day out they put citizens first and families second.”

He thinks it’s fitting that Monday is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, especially with what’s been going on.

Potter noted that last year over 130 officers were killed in the line of duty. Just today, two were killed in Orlando, one from a gunshot and the other in a crash while searching for the killer of the first officer.

Closer to home, a Norfolk policeman was injured when a suspect threw a caustic substance in his face.

“No one forces you to go into that profession. All of us knew we weren’t going to make lots of money; It’s a profession of service,” he said, adding that if they’re asked most, if not all, would say they wouldn’t pick another career.

“We are very lucky to have a group of professional men and women to serve as a barrier against evil.

They do it very professionally.”

In his view, personally and professionally law enforcement officers don’t hear “Thanks” or “We understand the difficulties of your job,” a great deal from civilians.

But when they do, “that goes a long way,” said Potter.


“An important fact to remember is that we’re coming off one of the deadliest years in law enforcement; there have been a number of law enforcement officers killed [in 2016],” said Capt. Tim Whitt, spokesman for the Franklin Police Department.

He also noted that already in the new year there’s been an attack on one officer in Orlando. He was shot and killed by a wanted murder suspect. Whitt also referenced the Norfolk policeman who was injured when someone walked up and threw a caustic substance in his face unprovoked. The suspect is reportedly in custody; the officer is being treated.

“We’re targets just because we wear a badge,” Whitt added.

As for the duties performed during storms, such as this past weekend, “Inclement weather is just something we deal with,” he said.

“The citizens, businesses, churches and governments have been most gracious in their support [of law enforcement]. It’s overwhelming.

“We’re truly blessed to have those people on our side. It’s a collaborative effort to show appreciation for what we do. Not just one day, but continuously,” said Whitt.

Windsor Police Chief R.D. Riddle stated, “WPD Officers are humbled by the appreciation we receive from our citizens on a regular if not almost daily basis. Hardly a day goes by where a member of the community does not say thank you to an officer, pick up the tab at lunch, drop by the office with cookies or snacks or simply says “be safe” to one of our employees.

“These little things serve as a daily reminder to our employees that our citizens are grateful for our sacrifice and service to them, they also serve to remind us of our commitment to this community and the citizens that we are tasked to serve and protect.”

He continued, “We are grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to work in a community that provides us with such an outstanding level of support.”

Major Gene Drewery of the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office had this to say:

“Mostly, I feel that our residents express their feelings for us by thanking each of us in personal contacts. Different times of the year, different individuals or groups may bring food items to our office. Our office also may receive handwritten cards or messages sent through social media.

“My feeling is that we choose this profession and should honor those that are beside us and that came before us by protecting and serving our communities to the best of our abilities.”