Households all across the country are doing what the Obama White House won’t do. To show their support for fallen police officers in the wake of an alarming surge in shooting deaths, folks in communities across the nation are lighting their porches up in blue.
Twelve officers have been gunned down and four more have been killed by assault (vehicular or otherwise) in just the past month, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
In the Garfield Ridge area of Chicago, people are showing their support for the police by putting blue ribbons on trees and blue light bulbs on “porch after porch.”
“It sends a message home. It’s such a quick indicator, a very simple action, but there’s a lot of meaning behind it. And we certainly hope it catches on,” says Al Torres of Garfield Ridge.
Torres is among many in the community bathing their porches in blue. The campaign was organized by residents of this southwest side neighborhood where many cops live. At a community meeting Monday night there were prayers for the safety of officers.
“We just want to show them that, hey, you know what, in all the troubled times that are going on in the country and in Chicago, that, hey, we’ve got your back. We support you,” says resident Al Cacciottolo.
“Anything that helps show support for police, it’s support for the community also,” says Chicago Police Dep. Chief Eric Washington.
— Chicagoist (@Chicagoist) July 19, 2016
The same thing is happening in the Riverside Heights area of Tampa:
“We do care. Maybe when it feels a little bit dark out there for them, and they might be scared, that they know that we do care,” says neighbor Dakota Davis.
After recent attacks on officers across the country, Davis asked Riverside Heights neighbors to swap out their porch lights with blue bulbs backing the bravery behind the badge.
“You either turn your back and pretend it doesn’t happen or you can get involved. Little things matter big things matter,” says neighbor Judy Micco.
Micco’s one of dozens of neighbors flipping the switch on the bright idea in Riverside Heights and Seminole Heights. They’re proudly shining a light on their appreciate for police as a step towards unity and peace.
More than 200 homes switched their front porch lights to blue bulbs to show officers they appreciate them. pic.twitter.com/XvzXmFEHwT
— TampaPD (@TampaPD) July 21, 2016
Some have shown their appreciation by bringing their departments thank you gifts, like cookies and pizza. In Struthers and Lowellville, residents are shining blue porch lights.
The porch lights show support for police officers and honor those who have died in the line of duty. In January of 2015, the Hubbard community displayed blue porch lights also.
Cassie, of Struthers, has a blue light on her porch. She says she supports police, and even wears a Blue Lives Matter bracelet.
“They’re out here trying to help you and they deserve the support,” Cassie said.
In Medford, Oregon, a woman’s campaign to show support for the police has lead to a boom on blue light bulbs in town.
Bewildered by recent police shootings and anti-law enforcement sentiment cropping up on social media, Sandee Galligan, a recent transplant from Colorado, is reaching out to her new neighbors.
“It was basically the morning of the Baton Rouge shooting, and my daughters and I were talking about how much it sucks to be a law enforcement officer in today’s world,” said Galligan, a mother of three. “It seems like there’s a huge target on their backs. We were talking about ways that we could show that we support them, so we posted on the Central Point (Facebook page) asking if anybody had any ideas.”
Within hours, Galligan and other followers of the “What’s Happening” Central Point Facebook group had come up with a viable plan — install blue bulbs on front porches to show support for members of local law enforcement.
Galligan started by changing her three outdoor lights to blue bulbs. Her hope is that officers driving down her road at night will see the blue bulbs as a gesture of support and appreciation. Galligan’s 17-year-old daughter, Samantha, said she hoped the support would mean something to officers “putting their lives on the line” for others every day.
“It’s important that local police officers feel supported by the communities they protect. With everything going on, it puts everyone on edge, but especially police officers,” said the teen.
Central Point Police Department Capt. David Croft said his department has been touched by the variety of ways people have shown support in recent weeks, from treats and cards dropped by the department to online messages and the gradual appearance of more and more blue bulbs.
“We’ve always had great support in our community, and it’s especially touching right now,” said Croft. “I think we’re really fortunate to live where we live, where obviously the climate is a little different. It’s a great gesture and just a great representation of what kind of people we have in our community.”
As of Tuesday, Ray’s Food Place had 500 blue bulbs on order, and Bobbio’s Pizza plans to give away free bulbs to delivery customers and customers who ask for a blue light special.
Bobbio’s owner Rick Deates said he had 500 blue bulbs on order and hoped to see “a couple thousand” blue lights around town by Aug. 1.
A block in Midland, Texas, went blue to show support for law enforcement:
A twelve-year-old boy in Thorton, Colorado, started his blue light campaign to show support for law enforcement after eight officers were killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
“Every day they wake up, they’re risking their lives for a stranger that they don’t even know,” Alex said.
Alex and his parents Lisa and Roman Herrera stopped by the local home improvement store to buy blue bulbs. The Lowe’s manager was so impressed, the store donated 24 lights for the cause.
“You’re welcome. We think it’s a great program. Good for you,” said service manager Kassie Collins told Alex.
Just a day earlier, Alex was upset after hearing about another attack on police. It hit too close to home for the 12-year-old.
“I just want to be a police officer like my dad,” he said.
Colorado boy gives blue porch lights to neighbors to support police https://t.co/bQsZtnDJU8
— 12 News (@12News) July 19, 2016
In Chattanooga, residents are showing their support in various other ways:
A store in Hixson is handing out free stickers and car decals supporting those who wear the badge and others are collecting donations for officers, and those are just two examples. People are coming up with their own good deeds all hoping officers will feel safe and supported.
“This is what I love doing I love making shirts and stuff, it’s just my way of using my platform to give back to the police departments,” said Solutions Printing General Manager John Tipton. Tipton has already handed out hundreds of stickers for free. He’s telling anyone who wants one to stick it on their car to back the blue.
“It’s a thin blue line for fallen soldiers and we want to put on there to protect and to serve and back the blue,” Tipton said, “I hope they think that when they see this that they’re not alone.”
Just down the road a Hixson daycare center wanted to help in their own way. Best Beginnings will be collecting donations through Friday, then inviting members of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office over to accept the donations and visit with the kids.
“There’s just so much bad news that it’s easy to be consumed by it so I just hope that they can see the community is standing behind them and supporting,” said mother Alexandra Kemmet.
Kemmet reached out to local agencies who said water and snacks can go a long way for officers patrolling in this heat. She’s already made one drop off for officers with the Chattanooga Police Department.
“All it takes is a Facebook post, an email and here you have it we have a lot of donations already,” she said.
Both Kemmet and Tipton hope these small acts of kindness show law enforcement they’re protected and appreciated.
“What we need to do is see these positives and we are seeing those positives in light of what’s been happening lately,” Sheriff Jim Hammond said.
The blue porch light idea was started in December of 1989 by the mother-in-law of a Philadelphia police officer. She called it “Project Blue Light.”
Daniel Gleason was killed in the line of duty in June 1986. His wife, Pam, lost her life in a car crash in August 1989. The couple had six children.
Dolly Craig told the national chapter of C.O.P.S. two blue candles in her window would honor both her son-in-law and daughter. The project originally honored all fallen officers during December. Now, it honors the living and the dead all year round.
People all across the nation are are finding ways to show their support for law enforcement, and cops really do seem to appreciate it.
“It adds to us wanting to come in to work, wanting to make a difference, because this is what it is all about,” said an officer in Tampa.
Sometimes the simplest things can make a difference.
To purchase blue lights and support cops, visit the C.O.P.S. website.