In the days since the killing of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, police departments in northeast Johnson County have been deluged with a show of support from the community that officers with decades of experience say is unprecedented.
Police departments from Westwood across NEJC to Merriam have seen a steady stream of residents dropping off food or cards of thanks – or just showing up at the station to let the police know they are appreciated. In Mission, a set of memorial wreaths was placed in the lawn in front of the police station.
“Everybody in this community cares,” Mission Police Chief Ben Hadley told the mayor and city council Wednesday night. Hadley and the department got a standing ovation earlier in the evening when they were thanked for their service.
In Merriam, Chief Mike Daniels said “there hasn’t been a day” since the Dallas shootings that someone hasn’t brought something in to the department. “I never imagined there were that many people who would (respond),” Daniels said.
After Dallas, Daniels rode with some of his officers to get a feel for what they were going through. “They were angry and hurt, but know we have a job to do,” he said. “It’s a hard thing we are asking them to do.”
“I’ve never seen it before,” Daniels said of the outpouring of support. “The national narrative doesn’t match our local experience.”
Hadley said people have come up to officers in the street and hugged them and prayed with them.
In Roeland Park, Chief John Morris said businesses and citizens have brought in food and other items for the officers. “It’s nice to be appreciated,” he said. “When times are really hard for all of us, they (the community) came out.”
In Prairie Village, the reaction was the same, with a business catering lunch for the department, someone dropping off pizzas, the fire department bringing in donuts and a mom bringing her young son in with cookies.
One Prairie Village neighborhood tied blue ribbons around the trees to show its support for local police.