About 40 people showed up Sunday evening to show their support for law enforcement at the Shawnee Justice Center near Johnson Drive and Renner Road. The group lined Johnson Drive for about an hour with signs and blue balloons. They were met with honking horns and waves from many drivers.
The “Support Our Law Enforcement” event was organized by Keri Brooks of Oskaloosa, Kansas, who has two brothers that are local officers and an uncle who is a retired officer.
Brooks, the only speaker during the rally, told the participants that she thinks it is essential to continue to show support for law enforcement officers who are working today, as well as those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Names like [Brad] Lancaster, [Robert] Melton, [Mike] Mosher, [Patrick] Rohrer, [Theresa] King; all their families also need to see that we stand by our law enforcement community now and forever,” Brooks said.
Shawnee Police Officer Matt Sumpter and Sergeant Matt Burger joined the rally to thank participants for their support and talk with everyone as they passed out Kansas City Royals baseball cards.
“We know that the overwhelming majority of the public supports us, and we’re going to continue to support them,” Burger said. “We know the other side is a different conversation, but they know they can call on us too, and we’re here to support them as well.”
“It’s just so important that we as a community let our law enforcement know that they have support,” Brooks said. “We see their sacrifice, we see what they do for us, and we need to show them that we’re also here for them.”
Several members of Shawnee’s Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association attended the rally, including President Beth Kornegay.
“I know that the Shawnee Police Department is awesome,” Kornegay said. “I trust them with my life; I know that if I needed them and I called them, that they would come and they would be very professional.”
Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler attended the rally with her daughter Jeydan. Both held signs and waved at passing cars while talking to other participants.
“As mayor of Shawnee, I am so proud of our community and that we can have both peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter and a community that shows love and appreciation to our law enforcement officers,” Mayor Distler said. “I like to believe Shawnee really is the heart of the heartland, and we all care about one another.”
At the end of the rally, Distler presented her sign, which read, “Shawnee PD, your mayor loves you,” to Officer Matt Sumpter, who asked her for her autograph on the poster. Sumpter said the sign would be put up for officers to see inside the police station.