Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Police appreciation

Update: 6:20 pm, 1/9/16, Monday 

CENTRAL ILLINOIS — Working in law enforcement can be a thankless job, but Monday, people across the country showed their gratitude on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Local police say getting thanks from the people they serve goes a long way.  

A lot of people think 2016 was not such a great year to be an officer. Based on the number of police officers killed in the line of duty, many would agree with that, but the Champaign County sheriff says, at the same time, it generated a lot of support from the people they serve.

As a young family from Gifford delivers baked goods to the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Dan Walsh says it’s gestures like this which reaffirm why they carry a badge.

He says, “They want to help people solve problems. That’s what they do, and it’s nice when the citizens recognize that.”

He and Chief Deputy Allen Jones say one of their biggest supporters is local radio personality Stevie Jay Khachaturian. He regularly uses his show on 93.5 FM to feature men and women in uniform.

He says, “I believe that, without our police, we would have chaos.”  

Not to say chaos doesn’t exist. In 2016, police officers across the country, and twice in Champaign County, were targeted trying to prevent it.

That’s why he decided to host a law enforcement banquet in Champaign last August. 420 people showed up, including Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and former Bears coach Mike Ditka.

“I think everyday, if you see a law enforcement person, and even somebody who works in the office, tell them thank you for what they do every day.”

The sheriff says there are plenty of people who feel the same. He says they get letters, emails and calls almost every week from people just saying thanks.

He says it’s always a pleasant surprise, and sometimes from people you wouldn’t expect.

Walsh says, “Believe it or not, we occasionally get letters from inmates saying how nice the officers, how they helped them through whatever individual problems they have. It means a lot when people appreciate it.”

He also appreciates the artwork his office now has on its walls. Some of it is from kids in daycare, others from people in a nursing home.

Some gifts might go stale after a few days, but Sheriff Walsh says the thought behind it always remains with them.

“It’s the kind of pat on the back that we all need now and again.”

This is one of several days set aside to honor police. National Thank an Officer Day is September 15. In May, there’s National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day.

There are several days recognizing police in America, but some parts of Central Illinois have named their own days to honor police.

This year Champaign’s mayor declared August 25 to be Police Engagement Recognition Day. Vermilion County also has its own Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in July, and several counties celebrated Back the Blue Day in August. 

Original: 4:30 pm, 1/9/16, Monday

CENTRAL ILLINOIS — People around the country are saying thank you to the men and women who protect them every day.

Monday was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. People are showing their gratitude.

Many say 2016 was a tough year to be a cop and 2017 is already off to a rough start. A police sergeant and sheriff’s deputy in Orlando, Florida, were killed in the line of duty Monday.

Last year, there were numerous reports of officers being shot at or hit, including some in Central Illinois. The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office says it means so much when people they serve show their appreciation.

In their case, it’s not been limited to any specific day. Sheriff Dan Walsh says he gets thank you letters, emails or calls nearly every week; some from people you might not expect.

Walsh says there’s been more of an outpouring of support for his office than ever before. One example of it is artwork decorating the department’s basement hallway. 

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