Area law enforcement agencies get pat on back

Anderson Jackson dressed up as his grandpa, Michael Gray, a Tahlequah Police officer, on Halloween in 2020.

Whether it’s on a specific day or year-round, most community members believe their law enforcement officers deserve to be celebrated for their work.

Sunday, Jan. 9 is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was set aside in 2015 by multiple organizations to show gratitude to officers. The day promotes understanding of the difficult decisions taken by officers, and how those are generally in the best interest of citizens, and the law.

According to National Today, the day was triggered by the chain of events in the 2014 wherein an officer was involved in a shooting in Missouri. That event led Concerns of Police Survivors, COPS, to take initiative to change the negative portrayal of law enforcement. There are over 900,000 officers in the U.S., and COPS says it’s important to support them.

Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said there are 37 officers in his department, and they do take notice when someone reaches out to show appreciation.

“We try to let them know they’re appreciated, day in and day out,” said King. “In a sense as far as we go, we try to show gratitude throughout the year to our officers and to our staff.”

King said a simple "thank you," or a pat on the back, can go a long way.

Some ways people can show their appreciation for law enforcement officers are to wear blu;, send a card or letter to their local police department or sheriff’s office; share a story about a positive experience they had with officers on social media; or participate in Project Blue Light.

Project Blue Light began in 1989 to pay tribute to officers who have died in the line of duty. A woman told COPS she was going to have two blue candles in her window during the holiday season – one for her son-in-law, who died in the line of duty in 1986, and one for her daughter, who was killed in a vehicle crash in 1989.

There are 36 full-time employees at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office: 14 patrol deputies, six investigators, two courthouse deputies, one school resource officer, one transport deputy, four administrators, two secretaries and five dispatchers. Sheriff Jason Chennault said it’s nice to be appreciated, and that there’s a specific day for it.

The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service has 44 law enforcement officers, and there are four certified officers with the Keetoowah Tribal Police Department.

Justin Alberty, Grand River Dam Authority corporate spokesman, said there are 30 full-time officers in his department.

"We do also utilize a large number of part-time officers as well, how assist in all LE and security areas," said Alberty.

Comments were not returned seeking data from the Northeastern State University Police or the Oklahoma Highway Patrol by press time.

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