Darlington Police connect with community after Dallas shootings

"Thanks for putting your life on the line," read one sign presented to Darlington Police Friday. "Thanks for keeping us safe," read another.

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – The events in Dallas are certainly being felt in police departments all over the country, and officers with Darlington PD are no different.

It’s a sad understatement to say it has been a difficult week for those in the law enforcement community. For the men and women who come to work, suit up, and hit the streets to protect the city of Darlington, they say now more than ever, it’s just as important to serve–as well as protect.

Policing can be a thankless and often very dangerous job, but that doesn’t stop these officers from connecting with their community.

Lt. Kim Nelson of Darlington PD said it was a tough week around the state, especially after Thursday night’s shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers.

“When you have a brother or sister that has been wounded, it always hits close to home,” said Nelson.

She was blown away when what started as a seemingly isolated event turned into the worst day for the law enforcement community since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

These sorts of events always make Lt. Nelson wonder when–or it–the violence could touch one of her officers.

“You walk around and you’re praying that nothing hits any closer t home,” Nelson said.

In the wake of this week’s tragic events–including two fatal officer-involved shootings–Lt. Nelson said training from the SC Criminal Justice Academy that her officers completed mere weeks ago means her crew is ready for anything.

“They were addressing certain situations and what to do with and if those situations ever came up in the field,” Nelson explained.

Nelson also says community outreach is vital to build trust between officers and citizens. She said officers and people who live in Darlington often brainstorm new ideas to both help bring the community together and help those who are less-fortunate. She doesn’t plan on adjusting that part of her plan for anything.

“We’re gonna continue to treat our public with respect and protect and serve.”

Some of those folks came out to the station Friday morning–to bring gifts and to raise the spirits of the officers after another tough night in an already tough week.

“We just wanted to show support and give them love with all that they’re going through,” said Brittany Shaw, 16. Her mother, Betty, helped the kids brainstorm, but said the idea was all them.

“We really just wanted to come out and do what we could for these officers,” Betty said. “It’s hard when you want to do something to help, but Dallas is so far away. So we came out here to try and make them feel a little more loved.”

Lt. Nelson says she was shocked when Betty and the kids brought doughnuts for the police force. The kids also made multicolored posters with encouraging messages like “Thank you for putting your life on the line,” and “Thanks for keeping us safe.”

“I just said, ‘wow,’ somebody really does appreciate me and what I do,” Nelson said, smiling.

She said that while her officers definitely enjoyed the sweet treats and signs the kids brought to the station, it was hearing the words ‘Thank you,’ that really struck a high note on an otherwise terrible week.

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