In the wake of recent attacks on police officers across the nation, the Assyrian American Civic Club took it upon themselves to say “thank you” to the Turlock Police Department, preparing a breakfast Tuesday morning as a display of gratitude for their hard work and service.
The breakfast, held in the department’s conference room, was organized by the AACC Education Committee as a way to remind the city’s officers that the community stands with them.
“With all this stuff going on in the world, I just came up with this idea to do something for them to show our respect and how we appreciate them,” said Education Committee Chair Romina Pourtaverdi. “I thought it was a perfect time to come show them that as a community, we care about them. These guys are out helping while we’re safe at home.”
On July 7, five police officers in Dallas, Texas, were killed as they protected a peaceful protest. Just over a week later on July 17, two more police officers and a sheriff’s deputy were shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after being ambushed by a lone gunman. Baton Rouge is where police on July 5 fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, outside of a convenience store, sparking nationwide protests.
Despite the outcry against police violence, and in some cases, police in general across the country, Turlock Police Chief Robert Jackson said that TPD has been met with nothing but support.
“One of the things I notice right off the bat when these things happen is that Turlock is a wonderful community,” said Jackson. “I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the department is the community; when we’re not working, we are the community just like everyone else.”
Whether it be through small acts, such as leaving flowers by the front entrance of the police station, or larger ones, like planning a breakfast for officers, Jackson pointed out how Turlock residents have gone above and beyond to show support for TPD.
“Every day we have people of the community bringing in cookies, cupcakes, donuts and flowers, and that really shows support from them,” he said. “People bring their kids in to hug an officer and to let them know that we’re on their side and we’re here to protect them, so it’s refreshing.”
According to Jackson, TPD has experienced the “opposite of the whole ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement,” which has staged frequent protests in response to police treatment of black Americans.
“All it takes is one or two people to get brought into the belief that ‘police are against us,’” he said. “It’s not true. We’ve all sworn to support the Constitution and take care of the community, and that’s what we do.”
AACC President Sam David spoke to the officers as they ate, letting them know that their oath to protect the City of Turlock is one that does not go unnoticed.
“With what’s going on in today’s world, I know you guys are getting beat and battered,” said David. “When I’m sitting home at night with my family, watching TV, having a beer or a glass of wine, knowing that I’m safe and knowing you guys are out there protecting us, that’s the best feeling. I know sometimes it’s a thankless job and sometimes you have to endure all of this unnecessary grief, but we really appreciate you guys.”
The attitude toward police officers reflected by David, Pourtaverdi and the rest of AACC is one that Jackson hopes continues to resonate throughout the streets of Turlock.
“It’s sad to see the state of the nation, but I don’t think Turlock reflects what’s going on in the nation and I hope it stays that way.”