By Lauren Boughner
It’s been a turbulent year for police officers around the country. They’ve been in the national spotlight for the shootings of unarmed men, and then as the victims of shootings themselves.
Although it’s been a quiet summer in Zionsville, without the violence so many other cities experience, residents gathered at a rally July 22 to show their appreciation for local law enforcement and to thank them for putting their lives on the line every time they go to work.
Zionsville town councilor Bryan Traylor organized the rally in response to the recent news surrounding police officers.
“Zionsville’s a safe town but we’re not immune,” he said, adding that the event was designed to help the public “see the officers as people.”
The rally began at ZPD at 5:30 p.m., when the officers made a shift change. Many police officers were getting off work while others were coming in. Several attended out of uniform to be a part of the event.
More than 100 members of the Zionsville community attended, many with signs, cookies, pizzas or other homemade creations. Children of local officers wore T-shirts stating, “My daddy’s life matters.” Some handed officers vouchers for free lunch at local restaurants, followed by a handshake and a hearty “thank you.”
“I’m just in awe,” said ZPD Chief Robert Knox, who has been a police officer for more than 30 years. “We don’t go out and seek the limelight.”
Knox said that ZPD has received all kinds of appreciation in other ways as well, in the form of cards, emails, food and kind words.
Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak also attended the rally.
“I think (the rally) just shows how much the police force is appreciated by the people,” he said.
The appreciation went both ways.
“I think it’s great when the community gets together,” ZPD patrol officer Joseph Denneman said. “It’s not about us. It’s about the community.”
Knox said that with more officers having been ambushed so far this year than all of 2015, he’s working to boost morale and encourage safety.
“I’ve tried very hard to be supportive to the officers during these trying times,” he said. “(I am) encouraging them to keep their heads up and be as aware of their surroundings as much as they possibly can.”