This post is part of our on-going #WhyIWearTheBadge Wednesday blog series.
Guest blogger: Michelle Gavin, Community Relations Administrator, Savannah-Chatham, Georgia, Metropolitan Police Department
The #WhyIWearTheBadge social media campaign has been an incredible experience for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department in terms of gaining community support and bolstering the morale of our officers. We began our #WhyIWearTheBadge campaign on Police Memorial Day, and have since been highlighting officers from all of our precincts, investigative divisions and special operations units. Our goal is to profile at least 100 of the more than 500 officers on the force.
When I approach an officer for this campaign, I ask him or her to get to the core of why they became a police officer or why they continue to serve. Some know the answer right away; with others it takes some prodding. It has been a fascinating experience listening to the variety of reasons why our officers wear the badge.
When I asked one of our patrol lieutenants why he wears the badge, he joked and said it was for the pay. Then I asked him a more serious and direct question, why does he consistently step forward and leads his officers in critical incidents. He said, “As a precinct lieutenant I pray for the Lord’s knowledge, strength and blessings to make the right decisions to bring my officers home safely.” When I was ready to the take the photo, the other officers in the squad room were inspired and wanted to take the photo with him.
I now have officers seeking me out, asking to participate in the campaign. There is even a bit of competitiveness to see who can get the most likes, shares, and retweets. The officers have asked to keep their #WhyIWearTheBadge statements and have hung them up in their workspaces.
I believe with all the negative media attention law enforcement officers have received, the positive comments we are getting from the community on Facebook goes a long way. Many officers say, and our Facebook friends have commented, that they look forward each day to seeing who is profiled next.