HEFLIN — This afternoon held a surprise for nearly a dozen officers who gathered at the Heflin Armory.
According to Kaylie Turner, the wife of Heflin’s canine officer Danny Turner, all that officers around Cleburne County knew to do was meet there around noon.
When they arrived, they were greeted with free lunch, including barbecue and sandwiches. Tablecloths with blue stripes, toy police cars and mini traffic cones decorated the tables. Turner said officers could get door prizes and gift cards.
“We’re going to tear into it,” Danny Turner said of the food.
Turner said this was the first time he’d been to an event like this — one where the community has gotten together to say “thank you.”
“In the midst of everything going on in the world, for them to get together and do this… it means a lot,” Turner said.
Tracey Kyttle of Heflin, who initially came up with the idea, said it took the community about three weeks to plan. Kyttle said she and other volunteers started asking for donations from businesses and locals about three weeks ago, and spent last week collecting them.
Without the community working together, Kyttle said, the lunch wouldn’t have been possible.
She said the turnout was lower than she’d expected, but the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a part in that.
With protests against police brutality and racism starting around the country, she said, she felt local police officers needed to feel appreciated. She said wasn’t against the Black Lives Matter movement, but believes police are necessary.
“I don’t want to defund our police, we need them,” Kyttle said. “In our community, they are awesome. They aren’t hurting nobody.”
Heflin officer Neale Morgan said the gesture alleviated some of the stress that often comes with a law enforcement job.
“Usually, when somebody needs you, it’s their worst day,” Morgan said. “It’s a good, different aspect of our job, something like this.”
Danny Turner said it was also nice to spend time with the community in a positive setting, something that can be rare at times.
“Our interactions with the community aren’t always under the best circumstances,” Turner said. “We don’t get to intertwine with the community as much as we’d like to.”