Like many across the nation and state, I’ve recently become dismayed and slightly disenfranchised by recent events that have left me feeling like the collective sense of community is eroding. From multiple shootings in Kansas City over the recent weekend to repeated national school shootings to limits being placed on women’s reproductive rights to our political leaders’ complete inability to agree on much of anything, it’s not hard to feel like America has become divided over everything except division.
In times like these, I am thankful for the actions of our local first responders.
In recent weeks, several firefighters and officers from area fire districts and police departments have gone above and beyond the call of duty and shown there are still people out there who do things because they are the right things to do, not because they have to.
Earlier this month in Smithville, police and firefighters helped make a veterans’ return home from an Honor Flight memorable by giving him a full escort with emergency vehicles’ lights blazing, alerting everyone that something special was happening. Days before that, firefighters and police also helped rescue a kitten from a storm drain, saving the furry one’s life.
In Kearney, police officer Joe Kantola is regularly known to give stickers out and chat with local kids and let them try on his vest and sit in his squad car. He also recently put a request out on social media for a portable basketball hoop that he was willing to purchase for a local child often seen playing with a ball but who had no hoop. The community rallied and provided the equipment.
In addition, each year officers in Liberty, Kearney and Smithville and deputies with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office spend hours of their time fundraising for local Shop with a Cop programs, providing thousands of dollars for Christmas gift shopping sprees to our community’s underprivileged children. These officers volunteer their time to take the children shopping and often add to donations from their own pockets. Officers in Liberty and Smithville also regularly put on events where they read to children. Sometimes they also provide icy desserts and other treats and activities for children and their families.
These efforts go beyond community policing, a strategy of policing that focuses on building ties and working closely with members of the communities. It shows those in uniform actively strive to improve our communities in the present and future, instilling a sense of activism and support in our area’s youth. For that, I thank you! Thank you to all the men and women of local emergency agencies for reminding me there are good people out there who come together for the benefit of community.