In what I think is a first for the Mountain Home News -- at least since I've been here -- I've decided to step off my metaphorical soap box for a few minutes and let someone else do the talking.
It's because I wanted to do something special for our officers in blue -- the men and women who serve as the guardians of our neighborhoods and our communities. In recent days, we're seeing more instances where people are going out of their way to show their appreciation for our uniformed officers, sheriffs deputies, state troopers and other law enforcement officers.
Among them are the members of the Mountain Home High Hopes Special Olympics, who added a personal touch by writing and drawing personal thank you cards for our uniformed officers. The messages shared by people like Shawn, Rosemary, Sam and Kassy shared the same message -- "thank you for protecting us."
Then there are others out there who dropped off food and similar messages of support for our officers. Then there was another who not only dropped off gifts but did so while wearing a "paint the town in blue for Idaho law enforcement" T-shirt.
It's support like this that warm the hearts of those who sacrifice so much to protect so many in communities like Mountain Home. And that doesn't even include all the messages of support relayed by others through Facebook and Twitter or by traditional phone calls our law officers continue to receive every day.
Having said that, I'd like to temporarily relinquish my soap box and share with you the messages extended by our local law enforcement.
"More and more support keep pouring in from kindhearted members of our community from the unfortunate incidents that have occurred in other states that quite honestly is fairly frightening," said Officer Melanie Broughton. "It makes us realize that the citizens of Mountain Home love their police department just as much as we love them."
Broughton emphasized that these messages of support are what law enforcement officers in this community need to hear right now -- from all the positive social media messages, pictures, hugs, hellos, kind words and handshakes to the snacks, cupcakes and cards.
"During this time, negativity regarding police is displayed throughout the nation and is frightening," she added. "I cannot thank you enough for showing us how much you actually care."
That type of thanks was shared by others like Police Lt. Bill Bradshaw.
"I like to see the support from the community to the department," Bradshaw said. "I am very appreciative of the public."
"I think that it is wonderful to see how much the community cares and support us," said Police Lt. Humberto Fuentes. "I know the community cares.... This motivates us to continue doing what we love to do."
"People are more friendly and showing it by waving and more," Police Sgt. Russell Griggs added. "It is nice to see just how much the community cares."
"I appreciate all the support and feel that our community would step up and help us in any time of need," said Police Sgt. Jeff Rhodes.
"Words can't begin to explain how appreciative I am," Officer Brian Thomas emphasized. "We continue to deal with a lot of negative calls. We understand that this is a thankless job, so hearing this helps us restore trust and motivates us to continue doing what we love to do -- protecting and serving the community that we love and live in."
"All the outpouring of concern and support that I see coming in from several members of our community brings tears to my eyes because it is so heartwarming," said Rogena Beaux from the police department's administration office.
The level of kindness extended toward those in uniform is branching out in other avenues as well. For example, a local portrait photographer wants to take photos of our city officers and sheriff's deputies with their families as part of a free service.
His kindness shows how many people in our society view the sacrifices made by our "officers in blue." It also emphasizes that their families have to make similar sacrifices as well, which often means their loved ones will miss birthdays, anniversaries, school sports programs and other family oriented gatherings due to their commitment to protecting their community.
Jumping back on my soap box once again, I did have one thing to add to the conversation that has me a little concerned. It involves the details on when that photo assignment will happen.
That information is being safeguarded with local law enforcement because there are safety concerns for those in uniform as well as their spouses and children, regardless of where they live and serve.
Those safety considerations show just how far society has declined in some communities across the United States. When people no longer respect our police officers, sheriffs deputies, state troopers and others in law enforcement, our country has a serious problem.
I suppose part of that problem stems from the fact that too many people out there are ready to rush to judgement on cases involving law enforcement officers. I've seen too many cases where an officer is charged with wounding or killing individuals, and the protests start before the investigation even begins. We, as a society, are too eager to rush to judgement without knowing any of the facts.
Then again, there are those out there who are not interested in the facts. They want to assume all law enforcements officers are bad people, which we know is clearly not the case.
Hearing about all the hand-written cards and other examples of support by people in this community show that we not only care about those who answer the call to duty but also support what they do to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe.
May God bless those who put themselves in harm's way every day in service to their community and their country. May they and their families always remain in our thoughts and prayers and that they remain safe.
-- Brian S. Orban