OPINION COLUMNS

Appreciating the badge

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, January 12, 2019
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Noble Leaders

NOBLE LEADERS – Recently promoted Bridgeport Police Sgt. Gregg Romine gets his new badge pinned by family members Wednesday in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

As is tradition, I did my usual scrub through Twitter after waking up Wednesday morning.

After scrolling through piping hot sports takes and the rest of the sarcastic fodder I follow I glanced toward the trending sidebar and saw something different.

Austin Jackson

Apparently it was #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay. “Huh,” I thought. My reaction didn’t register on the Richter scale.

It’s not that I don’t back the blue. It just seems like there’s a “day” for everything nowadays. A quick scroll through the list for January brings such revered “days” as National Fruitcake Toss Day, National Hugging Day, and my personal favorite, Bean Day.

In just a matter of hours, I would come to appreciate #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay. I just had to log off.

Later that day, I attended a badge pinning ceremony in Bridgeport. My expectations were low. I thought it would be, well, ceremonial.

I filed the story in the groundbreaking ceremony echelon with “grip and grin” photos and a few quick graphs before moving on.

But it didn’t take long for this dull brain to get it. This ceremony became more as soon as I saw children take seats.

Wives, parents, daughters and sons filled the room, waiting to pin the badge on their officers with pride in their eyes. These are kids who will wait for them to come home and wives who will stress about their safety.

They were there to celebrate a big day. The day their dad or husband officially earned the badge for the Bridgeport police force.

On the back wall of that room is a picture of Bridgeport Sgt. Randy White. This April will be the 10th anniversary of the day White sacrificed his life in the line of duty.

Despite the dangers of this job and the responsibility of police work, two officers and their families signed up to protect us. Two others were promoted to sergeant.

As I watched these children and loved ones pin badges on these new Bridgeport police officers, appreciation doesn’t quite say it.

Thanks, or any amount of paragraphs doesn’t either.

But, thank you to Officer Kaleb Elledge, Officer Kenny Williamson, Sergeant Horace Langford and Sergeant Gregg Romine. Thank you and your families for the sacrifices you make for us.

Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said it best.

“Every one of these officers embraces the calling and nobility of law enforcement,” Stanford said. “In 2009, we had an officer that gave the ultimate sacrifice. We lost Sgt. White to a fatal felony act. He embraced that. We are always reminded of our call and reminded of the importance of nobility in our career and the importance of the nobility of our democracy. If we don’t have that, we don’t have democracy. We have four new noble leaders. What I define a leader as is someone who represents hope. All of our officers are leaders, regardless of title. These two officers are leaders. You represent hope to someone in this community.”

Thank you.

Austin Jackson is a Messenger reporter.

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