Editor, the Times:
I witnessed something recently that struck me as a direct affront to the insane efforts by some people in parts of the country to “defund” the police. My wife and I were having lunch in a restaurant in Harrisonburg, Virginia, when I overheard a waitress tell two customers at a table near us that they didn’t have to pay. Their bill had been taken care of. They were very surprised and thanked her, but she said it was another customer who’d paid their bill on the way out and wanted to remain anonymous. I noticed that the customers were local law enforcement officers and I immediately thought of the “We Support Our Local Law Enforcement” signs in windows of some stores in the area, and thought, “I’m seeing someone actually doing it.” This was showing that “support” different in a more profound way. A local citizen was making the statement, but in a heartfelt and personal way, which for me, was making those words on the signs come to life.
As the officers rose to leave, I asked them if that was what had happened and they confirmed it, seemingly as surprised about it as I was. I told them I thought that was “pretty cool” and congratulated them. They laughed and thanked me and said that they appreciated the gesture as well.
I thought about it on the way home, realizing that I could do the same thing. I decided to do just that whenever the occasion presented itself, but also thought it was something I should share with my friends and neighbors. Maybe they would see the value in doing something like that and consider doing it sometime themselves.
I would like our law enforcement officers to know they are valued by most citizens and that their work is greatly appreciated. I’ve had limited exposure to the work they do because of the 24 years I spent in the U.S. Navy, security police and a very short time with the Shore Patrol; however, civilian law enforcement is a much harder job fraught with more danger and frustration and I salute them. The least I can do is buy lunch for a few once in awhile. It’s a small token of my appreciation and a discrete and anonymous, but somewhat public way of showing support.