‘We kinda need a hug’

Rally recognizes police, firefighters

By: Kayla Dimick, Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | Southfield Sun | Published May 25, 2016

 Morgan Jones, 23, of Southfield, and her mom, Lois Jones, brought signs to the event.

Morgan Jones, 23, of Southfield, and her mom, Lois Jones, brought signs to the event.

Photo by Donna Agusti

SOUTHFIELD — With Memorial Day right around the corner, a local group decided to pay tribute to local first responders for the first time recently.

The Support Our Law Enforcement Rally was held May 17 in conjunction with National Police Week on the front lawn of the Southfield municipal complex, 26000 Evergreen Road.

The nonpartisan event was hosted by the 14th Congressional District Republican Committee in an effort to support and lift up local first responders.

“There are no politics being talked about tonight,” Committee Chair Janine Kateff said. “This is our first official Support Our Law Enforcement Rally, and we hope that each year that we do this, we build and build and build our audience. The fact that you are here is significant. We know what that means, and we know it means you support the men in blue and the women in blue.”

Prior to remarks from local elected officials and law enforcement personnel, members of the Southfield and West Bloomfield honor guards presented the colors of the American flag.

Veteran Don Woodward led the Pledge of Allegiance, and KayCi Marie Mersier, of Troy, sang the national anthem. Southfield attorney Karen Faett emceed the event.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at the event that the representation of law enforcement in the media is not always accurate.

“There’s about 800,000 police officers in America, and well over 1.1 million arrests and encounters happen every year, and yet you see a snippet of some of the bad situations on television that are replayed over and over and over, and you tend to lose the context of the many men and women doing the right thing every day — putting it on the line every day and making a difference every day — and I think that’s critically important,” Bouchard said at the rally.

West Bloomfield Police Chief Mike Patton said police agencies always appreciate the community’s support, especially when officers become fatigued or demoralized from being under constant criticism.

“Sometimes, when we’re being criticized or are under attack both verbally or physically, it gives us comfort to know that we really are doing a good job. The community appreciates the good job we’re doing, and even though there may be some individuals within the community that don’t (appreciate us), it kind of empowers us and reminds us we’re here for a reason,” Patton said.

Michigan State Police trooper Mark Kellar spoke on the misconceptions of what the Michigan State Police actually do.

“Law enforcement right now, we kinda need a hug, because there’s so many things going on,” Kellar said.

Southfield Deputy Police Chief John Fitzgerald spoke on the need for recognition of law enforcement personnel.

Southfield Mayor Ken Siver said at the event that first responders are a priority in the city of Southfield. During the economic downturn, Siver said, the city was faced with tough financial decisions.

“In Southfield, our No. 1 priority was always public safety,” Siver said. “We scrimped, we cut here, we cut there, but we never cut our police, fire or EMS services or our homeland security, because if you don’t have safety, you have nothing else.”

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck —  who represents Canton, Livonia, Northville, Plymouth and Wayne — also said a few words at the event. Bishop W.T. Issac Jr., of the Promise of Abraham Church in Detroit, closed out the ceremony with a prayer.