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Police Appreciation Drive Aims To Show Support, Build Community

Emanuele Berry|St. Louis Public Radio

As protests continue, a movement supporting law enforcement is gaining traction.

Some St. Louis area residents are organizing a supply drive, collecting prepackaged food and toiletries for police officers. The drive was the brainchild of North County native Katrina, who asked that her last name not be used for safety reasons. Her father and relatives are high ranking members of local public safety departments.

“As preparations have been underway for the weekend of resistance and protester efforts, there’s been sort of a mass effort to support them and supply them with resources they need. I happened to start thinking, ‘I wonder if anyone’s doing that on the law enforcement side',” she said.

Katrina said the drive is not meant to be political or a “law enforcement versus protesters” initiative. Rather, she said it is meant to build community as well as to support law enforcement and public safety officers who may have to respond to the Ferguson October events over the weekend.

“No matter where you stand politically or with this issue, those guys are putting in some serious hours; they still have to eat, they still need amenities like anyone else,” she said. “No man or woman who's working to try and keep safety and law and order should have to work a 12- or 16-hour shift without eating or having something to drink.”

Requested donations, which can be dropped off at the Ferguson Fire Department, include bottled water, ground coffee, energy drinks, on-the-go snacks, granola bars, and gift cards to restaurants and grocery stores. Katrina said all items must be prepackaged, cannot be home-cooked, and will be screened. While she called most protesters “level-headed,” some  are “taking a violent and abusive approach and it’s because of those outliers and exceptions to the rule that those security measures have to be taken.” She said her family has received threats since the protests in Ferguson began.

So far, Katrina said the response to the drive has been “overwhelming,” with dozens of cases of water and boxes of snacks being delivered. She said many area restaurants also have given to the drive, though many have requested anonymity as a condition of their donation. Nonetheless, Katrina said the number of donations has restored her “faith in humanity.”

“For just as many challenges and struggles that we’re facing right now, there are still people who can see through that and see that we’re all hoping to get to the greater good at some point,” she said.

Other people are responding to the “Ferguson October” weekend of activism by planning rallies in support of Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown in August. Members of the "We Are Darren Wilson" Facebook group will be selling wristbands sporting Wilson's name on Saturday at Barney's Sports Pub in south St. Louis.

Additionally, the “Support Darren Wilson” Facebook page has announced a "Strike for Support" bowling event and fundraiser Saturday at Harvest Lanes in St. Charles. The group’s page is “a way to show our support for Officer Darren Wilson. We believe in all of our LEOs and want to publicly stand up for him.”