Respect. Honor. Gratitude. May 15-21 is National Police Week – Americus Times-Recorder
We have gathered. We have come together to celebrate and remember. It was a rich moment in time that needs to be savored to feel its full power. National Police Week is May 15 through May 21, 2022. On Sunday, May 15, Sumter County came together to honor all that is treasured in a law enforcement officer on Memorial Day peace officers. As we sat in adoration of the values and gifts they offer the community, there was a reminder that the death of an officer will always take our breath away. As this community often does, Sunday was a day to remember the officers who lost their lives serving us. The most recent being December 7 and 8, 2016, the deaths of Jody Smith and Nick Smarr. The death of an officer leaves traces. It is heavy. It’s precious. It requires rituals of pomp and circumstance. Maybe it hurts so terribly because with the death of an officer, we see our values attacked.
Daryl Brown, the Americus Police Department chaplain, called the officers “everyday people who have the drive, dedication and determination to help make the world a better place.” Sometimes they have such a will, dedication and determination to make us better that we forget that they are, in fact, ordinary people. When we peek behind the uniform and badge, there is a real person who struggles with the same things we do, who rejoices in his family, who leans on his God for strength to keep breathing, who has neighbors they pick up the mail for who want the best for their hometown. Just like us. They are actually so ordinary in so many ways, we relate to them as family, friends and neighbors. However, like us too, they carry values unique to their profession and unique to them as individuals. Willpower, dedication and determination are just the beginning of the list. Daryl reminded us of this, and his words should receive strong attention and action: “Today, let us stand up and respect those who serve to protect; honor those who are ready to answer the call and go to the scene…..stand up for those who have stood up for us and say, “Job well done”.
These are only three words, but these three words are powerful. It seems too easy to give them away, they seem powerless to capture the spirit of what we really want to say, but they are what we have. And they are what it takes. Law enforcement officers, like us, share a desire to know that their efforts are making a difference. There is a restoration on hearing “Job well done!” That’s true for you and me, and it’s true for those who have sworn to protect and to serve. Many look forward to the day when we hear the ultimate “Job well done!” In the meantime, let’s share it between us. It matters. Oh, how important.
Along with the crowd, Jody and Nick’s family were on hand to lay a white flower on a memorial wreath. There is no doubt that these are some of the toughest steps they will ever take. No doubt it takes all their strength to accomplish such an act. Other citizens and officers placed a white flower on the appropriate memorial wreath for each officer who died serving us. After the name was called, the flower was placed and a slow final salute was given, a bell rang for each officer. At the end of the ceremony, taps were played.
Before honoring the officers who gave their lives, the crowd enjoyed watching the joint honor guard. Pro-Tempore Mayor Kelvin Pless and Speaker Mark Waddell proclaimed the honor of our law enforcement by recognizing Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day. In addition to Kelvin and Mark, Charles Christmas of the Americus City Council was present. Mark Scott, Michael Lewis and Eric Bryant, our top lawyers, have once again played an important role for this community by leading the program.
The officers who gave their lives in the name of ours, seven in number. Those serving under the insignia of the Americas Police Department are William R. Morris, William Cyrus Barrow, Homer Allen Lee, Mary Anne Barker and Nicholas Ryan Smarr. Jody Smith died protecting us and supporting his best friend, Nick Smarr, while wearing the badge of the Southwest Georgia Department of Public Safety. John Kinney was killed in the line of duty while proudly serving as Sheriff of Sumter County.
Respect. Honor. Gratitude. We absolutely owe these gifts to our law enforcement officers. We are a community that values the characteristics of our men and women of law. If we are wise, we will strive to let them know that we are invested in them. While it is up to you whether you choose to like our law enforcement, know that they have already decided to like you. We can close our eyes at night because our God and law enforcement made the very intentional decision to lend us their eyes so we could rest in peace. For such a decision, for such an action, for such a disinterested act of service and love of neighbor, respect, honor and gratitude are absolutely due to them.
Americus Police Department, Leslie Police Department, Plains Police Department, DeSoto Police Department, South Georgia Tech Campus Safety, Georgia Southwestern Public Safety, Georgia State Patrol, Office of Community Supervision, Secret Service and our local Georgia Bureau of Investigation is with joy we proclaim, job well done! Job well done, indeed!