Park City backs the blue: Police officers respected, supported
Marie Rodrigues spent part of Saturday outside The Market at Park City under blue skies and with blue decorations all around.
The wife of Park City police officer James Rodrigues, she was one of the Police Department spouses involved in an event known as Paint the Town Blue. It is designed to show support for law enforcement, drawing other department spouses, officers and onlookers who were interested in the festive atmosphere outside the grocery store.
Rodrigues in an interview said there has been lots of negativity toward the police in recent years nationally, describing what she sees as “anti-police rhetoric” in the U.S. It can sometimes be difficult to be the spouse of a police officer, she said as she talked about the rhetoric. In Park City, though, the community backs the Police Department and appreciates the work of the officers, she said.
“I see a great show of support. I think people really support the officers patrolling and keeping the community safe,” said Rodrigues, who wore a shirt emblazoned with the words “police wife” and a necklace incorporating the design of the Police Department’s badge.
The event drew a small but steady crowd of people as customers entered and exited the grocery store. There were ribbons, balloons, signs and a table with information about the police. The department put some of its vehicles on display and officers affixed blue strips of tape on vehicles. A plaque on the table read “Real Heroes Don’t Wear Capes.”
Some of the officers cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill while others spoke to the people who stopped by. The event raised funds for the Police Department’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. The organization puts on the annual Shop With a Cop gift-giving day for needy children and assists others in need.
The Market at Park City donated the food that was sold at the event and helped the organizers gather donations for a raffle, such as snowboards and coolers.
Rob McKinney, a Police Department sergeant and the vice president of the Park City chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said in an interview the support at the event serves as a reminder of the community backing of the agency.
“Not every Police Department across the country gets the support,” he said.
McKinney said the department’s “day-to-day interactions with people” are a measure of the support.
“Citizen contacts we have in the community are positive,” he said.
Joe Piccirilli, who lives in Francis and once was a firefighter in New Jersey, talked about supporting the Police Department at a time when many others do not. His daughter is a part-time Summit County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher.
“There’s too many people in the world who don’t respect cops,” he said. “I see it as despicable.”
The police officers in Park City, though, attempt to incorporate themselves into the community, he said. That has led to a different sort of relationship between the police and citizens, he said.
“The Park City community respects their officers,” Piccirilli said. “It feels great.”
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