PDT Staff Writer
Scores of law enforcement officers and their families were treated to a dinner Thursday evening at Central Church of Christ in Portsmouth. The Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner began in 2002, after the 911 attack.
“It’s just an opportunity for us to be able to say, ‘thank you, and we appreciate what you guys are doing in our community,’” Pastor Dennis Dawes said. “We have invited the city police, the sheriff’s department, the State Patrol and Shawnee State law enforcement.”
Dawes said it is a way in which his church can give back to those who serve the area.
“The way they serve us and protect us and put their lives on the line every day, we just need to tell them, ‘thank you,’ and to let them know we appreciate what they are doing,” Dawes said. “I encourage our people here that whenever they see law enforcement to let them know we appreciate what they are doing. They’re important to us. But more than that, they’re important to the Lord, because they are doing service for the Lord in serving us.”
Members of the church worked to prepare the food and the facilities for the event, including Roger McClay, who provided some of the produce for the dishes.
“The cucumbers and the corn that’s on the plate, I raised that,” McClay said. “I raise sweet corn and green beans, and tomatoes. The elders wives and the preacher’s wife prepared the food.”
Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said it has become an event his staff has always attended.
“Traditionally, law enforcement officers unfortunately only see a negative side of our community because they’re dealing with crimes and trying to help victims,” Donini said. “But when a church like this puts on a function like this, they get the opportunity to see the other side which is a positive side. These guys have been doing this for years, and it’s a real good turnout this time. They take time out of their busy lives, they pay for everything, and the speaker is always a motivational speaker. He has always got a good message in his speech.”
The speaker for the evening was Willie Purdee, Executive Director of the KYOWVA Evangelistic Association.
“The biggest thing I want to focus on is the appreciation I have for the officers, and what they do in sacrificing for us, and for our protection, helping people they don’t even know,” Purdee said.
Purdee began by reading some outdated laws still on the books in some states, which brought laughter from the crowd. But he also spoke seriously to those assembled about the job law enforcement does.
“It’s a very serious and dangerous job,” Purdee said. “And I just want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, and my family’s heart as well, I do appreciate what you do more than you can possibly know.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232 or at firstname.lastname@example.org