By Pete Zamplas- “Blue Lives Matter” in Henderson County, where the newly-formed Stand T.A.L.L. is helping local law officers from money for training to arranging for free coffee as pats on the back for service.
Stand T.A.L.L. stands for Thank a Local Lawman. Its aim is to “build an environment within the local community that shows and demonstrates appreciation for the difficult and often dangerous challenges faced by law enforcement,” notes Allison Nock, the sheriff’s community relations media specialist.
Stand T.A.L.L. is a new project of the Sentinel Patriot Club (SPC), led by founder Ron Kauffman who started SPC in 2013. He sees Stand T.A.L.L. as a “fundraising arm” for law enforcement agencies such as the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and police departments within the county, and means of getting officers better “respected and appreciated.”
Kauffman has reached out to Sheriff Charlie McDonald, Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake, Fletcher Chief Eric Summey and Laurel Park Chief Bobbie Trotter.
A primary purpose is to raise money to fill in budgetary blanks. Examples are to help fund equipment such as bulletproof vests, target practice ammunition and other supplies, and training such a recent stress-diffusing seminar, Kauffman noted. Broader goals include a college fund for children of slain law officers.
To improve community-police relations, Kauffman eyes videos in school to assure children that law officers are not people to be wary of — but rather “good people whose job it is to protect them.” School resource officers represent officers as caring helpers.
He also suggests more activities along the lines of “cops and kids baseball games” that are held in Green Meadows to boost “cooperation, builds trust” and presents officers as “regular” people.
Kauffman noted “police are the first line of defense for citizens when something goes wrong — requiring an immediate response to de-escalate a situation, confront a criminal, or stop an illegal act that threatens the safety or security” of a neighborhood.
Like nationwide Blue Lives Matter, the local Stand T.A.L.L. “started because of all of the recent, senseless killings of cops” and in some cities a fervent “war on cops,” Kauffman.
Blue Lives Matter counters Black Lives Matter protests that erupted this summer — violently in riots, at times — and objects to minorities getting shot by police but not officers slain. Kauffman said too often protestors blame police for fatal results no matter circumstances — even if a suspect pulls a gun first or acted as if armed — and that they condone and even incite attacks on police.
He reasons that “once you advocate killing cops, you are not protestors. You are now domestic terrorists.” And he asserts that “today’s attacks on our civility and our law enforcement are being underwritten by big money, and powerful people like (investor and leftist activist) George Soros.
“We rarely see the heroes who run toward the danger, showing more concern for the safety of their fellow citizens than for themselves,” Kauffman stated. “We mourn our losses, and thank those who gave their lives in the line of duty. We don’t want to wait for a tragedy to occur, to remind us that those who protect us are members of our community.” He thanks those who “wear the badges to serve and protect us.” Kauffman teaches classes on properly carrying a concealed weapon.
Stand T.A.L.L. board members include Carl Sandburg Home Park Supt. Tyrone Brandyburg and Maureen DiRienzo, daughter of a longtime beat cop in San Francisco. Her father was also an opera singer, and thus the “singing cop.”
The public can reach out to law officers to show “respect and support” daily, such as simply with a friendly smile and wave or writing thank-you letters. He suggests Blue Lights for Blue Lives — lighting a blue bulb, on one’s front porch in evenings. “If the whole neighborhood is lit up blue, that’s a nice feeling for a cop driving there on his beat.”
He envisions a Blue Backer Patriot program of such public support for officers spreading through WNC. Businesses can display a pro-officer “Blue Backer” certificate from Stand T.A.L.L.
Already, people can fill service voids as Volunteers in Partnership (VIP) such as for security at public events, after training in the Sheriff’s Citizen Academy which next starts classes Jan. 17.
In its first donation, Stand T.A.L.L. on Sept. 9 gave $1,015 to the sheriff’s budget to pay for five people to learn stress management, in the three-day National Law Enforcement Retreat in October. It was in the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, in Black Mountain. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team did the training, for “unique emotional and spiritual needs.” This is for law officers and spouses, at $225 each or $395 per couple.
Thus the donation covered fees for two deputies and their spouses, and a detention officer. Another couple and an individual were sponsored by their church, Nock added.
Sheriff Charles McDonald said the training “brings hope and healing to law enforcement officers, who are placed in demanding and stressful situations throughout their career.” He thanked Stand T.A.L.L. for its donation.
Kauffman echoed the concern. “The job they do is very stressful. It impacts the person’s health, the family and others. This is relationship-building. (Public Information Officer) Maj. Frank Stout told me how critical this is. It’s typically not in the sheriff’s budget. So, we raised over $1000 bucks in a week, from 12 people.”
Greater sense of community appreciation in itself eases officers’ stress levels.
Stand T.A.L.L. then arranged for Joey’s New York Bagels giving local law officers free coffee and soft drinks, in the first Coffee for Cops. That was for a week, starting Oct. 17. Stand T.A.L.L. seeks other eateries to take turns similarly offering coffee for a week, to make it ongoing each month.
For more on Stand T.A.L.L., call 393-0900 or check www.thankacop.org.
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