York County sees an 'outpouring' of community support for police

Liz Evans Scolforo
  • Police in York County say they've been overwhelmed by support from the communities they serve.
  • Well-wishers are dropping off baked goods, candy and other food for their officers, police said.
  • In Carroll Twp., residents are providing their police officers with lunch or dinner every day during August.

For Pennsylvanians, there's no surer way to show people love or support than by feeding them. It's simply what's done.

And in the wake of the July 7 massacre of officers in Dallas, police across York County have had to loosen their utility belts because of all the well-wishes — in the form of goodies — they're receiving from citizens.

But it's not simply food, according to police. Supporters also are  sending cards and stopping by stations to shake officers' hands. One group even took out a half-page ad in the Dillsburg Banner urging residents to support their local law-enforcement officers.

(Photo courtesy of Northeastern Regional Police)

"We're really humbled," said Sgt. David Smith of Carroll Township Police. "It does mean a lot ... that people take the time to thank us."

Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said that while his department has always enjoyed the backing of its community, recent shootings of police officers have spurred even more people to reach out to officers.

"It's not so much the actual food — it's the show of support," Rizzo said. "It makes us feel like we're doing our jobs right."

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Support 'skyrocketed': Northern York County Regional Police have always had a core of community supporters who stop by about once a month to drop off cards and goodies or simply to thank officers, Lt. David Lash said. But since the massacre in Dallas, that number has "skyrocketed" to three or four times a week, he said.

"We've had a great outpouring of support from our communities," Lash said. "It's really important to the guys. It helps with morale and has a positive impact. ... We post all the cards and letters we receive on our bulletin board."

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said his officers have received extra support as well.

The children of Chad and Amy Adams of Dillsburg present Carroll Twp. Police Officer Laura Solomon with a thank-you cake and homemade card. From left, they are: Jayce, 2; Tanner, 5; Ella, 10; and Jake, 7.
(Photo courtesy of Carroll Twp. Police)

'Overwhelming': Residents have brought in food, local restaurants have supplied lunch to officers, and a Junior Achievement group gave officers restaurant gift cards, he said.

"There has been overwhelming support from all aspects of the community just coming up and saying kind words about our officers," Kahley said. "There are so many people that quietly support us."

In Springettsbury Township, more than 20 residents have dropped off baked goods and thank-you notes, according to Sgt. Brian Wilbur.

"It's the act of kindness that really resonates with the officers," he said. "It's been going on since the Dallas shootings. They're appreciative of our service and ... it's nice that people are thinking of us."

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A month of meals: In the greater Dillsburg area, residents have organized to support Carroll Township Police, Sgt. Smith said. Spearheading the effort are Chad and Amy Adams and the family that owns Cocklin Funeral Home, he said.

"We appreciate them putting their lives on the line for us every day, especially with everything going on right now in our nation," Chad Adams said.

A father of four, Adams said it breaks his heart to think of all the children who lost their law-enforcement parents to senseless violence.

Northeastern Regional Police Officer Shawn Wilson hangs out with a young supporter to celebrate National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of Northeastern Regional Police)

A group of residents has agreed to provide either lunch or dinner for Carroll Township Police every day this month, according to Adams. And an appreciative Smith said the food is home-cooked.

Get creative: "We're encouraging families to get their kids involved and be creative — maybe bake a cake or do something to stand with our men and women in blue," Adams said. "To take it one step further, we're also encouraging people to create posters and homemade cards."

Adams said his four children love being involved in the effort, and a photo of them presenting police with a thank-you cake has been posted on the department's Facebook page. The kids also made a card for the officers, thanking them for "keeping us safe."

"It was an important project for us," and a teachable moment for their children, Adams said.

What child hasn't pretended he or she was a police officer or firefighter?
(Photo courtesy of Northeastern Regional Police)

Smith said the reality is, it's officers' duty to keep the community safe, and they shouldn't expect to be showered with thanks for doing their jobs. So the fact that residents are taking the time and making the effort to support police means the world to officers, the sergeant said.

Adams said he hopes citizens across the country follow the lead of the Dillsburg-area community.

"Get your kids involved too," he urged.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.