The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 16, 2012

Project shows appreciation for law enforcement

By Kim West

— For Samantha Deen, a simple gesture can make a major impact.

Deen, whose husband serves as a Redstone Arsenal police officer, wants to honor local law enforcement during the holidays by encouraging Limestone County residents to display blue lights among their Christmas decorations.

Project Blue Light is a grassroots effort by the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) to show support for law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty and to thank active officers.

Nine local aw enforcement officers have been killed since 1918, including Tony Mims, Sgt. Larry Russell, Dewey Wayne Dorsey Sr., Lt. Benton McLemore, Billy Daly and Bedford F. Brackeen of the Athens Police Department, Chief Deputy James Henry Eubank of the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office and Alabama state troopers Simmie L. Jeffries and David E. Temple.

According to the C.O.P.S. national website, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty annually.

“This is our way as a community to show our support because they don’t a have a day,” said Deen, an Ardmore resident who is not affiliated with C.O.P.S. “The intent is to show support and unity for law enforcement, and it’s a remembrance (for fallen officers).

“If we could just get more people to participate, then the police driving through our neighborhoods can see the lights and know that we support what they do for us.”

She said for less than $10 dollars, a person can purchase enough blue lights to make them visible to patrolling officers.

“I went to Walmart the other day and bought a standard incandescent blue bulb for $1.88, and the strand I bought (Wednesday) at Dollar General was $3.50 for 70 blue lights,” Deen said. “The project started out with one candle with a blue light and progressed to where people wanted to be more obvious with porch lights and strands of Christmas lights.”

Deen said a Facebook group called the Whole Truth Project started a “Thank a Police Officer Day” this year on Sept. 15, so she put together gift baskets for the Ardmore Police Department and her husband’s department.

She said law enforcement officers might not always be popular, but it’s important to remember the risks they take on a daily basis.

“Not all police officers are bad — there may be a few that have done bad things — but they put their lives on the line every day,” said Deen, whose house features a cobalt porch light, a string of sapphire-hued lights and a battery-operated blue candle. “A traffic stop is never routine, and there’s always a potential of something dangerous happening.

“I just wanted to get this out there, and it makes my heart feel good. I know my house is done, and I wanted to bring awareness about this and thank our police officers.”