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Lights, bows show police support

It’s no secret that tension between police officers and the public has been at an all-time high in recent months. Initiatives are now being launched in Russellville to encourage citizens to show their support for the local “boys in blue.”

Emily Evans is the mother of a Russellville Police Department officer, and she said although she has always been supportive of law enforcement, that took on a new meaning when her son joined the force.

“Until I became the mom of an officer, I never realized – it’s not a job. It’s a calling,” Evans said. “You have to have a heart for this … I have a new appreciation for it.”

Evans wanted to do something to show her support for the RPD. Inspired by the yellow ribbons for troops and the pink ribbons for breast cancer – and ribbons in nearly every shade of the color wheel for every cause imaginable – she ordered a blue ribbon made up at Russellville Florist. She displays it on her mailbox and hopes it will catch on as a trend.

Evans also reached out to Russellville Mayor David Grissom to express her desire to show support for the RPD. Relatedly, Councilman Gary Cummings began giving out blue lightbulbs throughout his district, to be installed in outdoor light fixtures, so police officers can see blue lights throughout the community as they protect the streets at night.

“As I’ve gone around campaigning, I’ve left everybody a blue light,” Cummings said. The gift has been well-received – Cummings said even a candidate he’s running against accepted the blue bulb, and some constituents have called to request lightbulbs before he made it as far as their houses.

“We just thought it would be nice to do something … This seems like a really neat idea,” Grissom said. “This is a symbol.”

Evans she hopes these small symbols show that “during this time of anti-police, our community and our town supports our officers.”

Cummings pointed out that the bulbs are not expensive and draw very little power, making this an affordable gesture for anyone. “But the meaning of it is huge,” he said. “Police officers – they are under attack. This lets people know, ‘I’m supporting my police officers.’”

RPD Capt. Mike Prince and Chief Chris Hargett agreed the act will mean a lot to their officers.

“The perception is that everybody is against us, but I know the majority is for us,” Hargett said. “But when you hear negative, negative, negative and you never see any positive, you kind of start believing it.”

Prince said there have been groups showing support for RPD officers – whether it’s a church ministry sending cards or a civic group or private citizen buying them a meal – but this is just one more way to send a message of care and gratitude to local police.

Cummings and Grissom have personally purchased 500 blue light bulbs that will be available at city hall for anyone who would like one. Visit city hall at 304 N. Jackson Ave., Russellville, to pick up a blub.

“We just appreciate the job our police officers do each and every day,” Grissom said.
“All the officers really appreciate the showing of support,” Hargett added.