The Cherry Hill Police Department was inundated with letters, cards, food, presents and well-wishes from residents, business owners and community leaders in the days following the murder of five police officers in Dallas, Texas on July 7.
Last weekend, police officers across the country were shocked upon hearing the breaking news from Dallas, Texas.
On July 7, five police officers were killed and nine more injured while protecting a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas. The killer, identified as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, then engaged in a standoff with police. He was killed by an explosive deployed from a bomb robot after negotiations with police failed. The incident was the deadliest for law enforcement in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Cherry Hill Chief of Police William Monaghan said the incident was shocking to all of the members in the department.
“Our hearts go out to the officers in Dallas and their families,” Monaghan said. “It shocked us to the core because of how horrific and brutal the attack was on law enforcement.”
However, in the days following the news, the department received a boost thanks to dozens of community members.
Cherry Hill residents, business owners, religious leaders and others have rallied together to show their support for the Cherry Hill Police Department. Everything from flowers and desserts to thank you cards and even a light display went up in support of officers from the Cherry Hill Police Department just days after the Dallas shooting.
“I’ve been getting countless letters and cards of supports from both business owners and residents alike,” Monaghan said. “The community has really come together in support of us.”
Following the event, dozens of well wishes began coming into the police department from residents. Some residents dropped off flowers and cards thanking police officers for their service. The Cherry Hill Police Department’s Facebook page detailed just a few of the good deeds residents did for the officers. In a few posts, residents were shown delivering pizza, coffee and other food to the police department. Another post showed a home in Kingston where the homeowner changed their spotlights to blue in honor of the officers.
“It’s been overwhelming the amount of support the community offered this police department,” Monaghan said. “We’ve been truly humbled by it.”
One of the toughest parts of the incident for Monaghan and the police department wasn’t just the tragic shooting in Dallas, but the negative attention police across the United States have been receiving in recent months. There have been protests across the country in past weeks in response to two incidents of police officers shooting and killing two black men. One was in Baton Rouge, La., where 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed after an officer received a call from a citizen who said a black male threatened him with a gun. The other incident was in Falcon Heights, Minn., where 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop. Multiple media outlets reported last Tuesday that one of the officers involved in the Castile incident thought Castile could have been a suspect in a robbery.
Monaghan noted the police officers shot in Dallas were actually protecting the Black Lives Matter protestors and their freedom of speech. He said negative attention aimed toward police could lower the morale of officers.
“We’re really concerned about the officers’ safety, especially in times like this,” Monaghan said. “We don’t want the national media attention to influence their decision-making.”
“We believe in what we are, we believe in what we stand for and in our vision for this town,” he added.
Monaghan said the support from the community has helped raise the department’s spirits overall and has helped give the officers confidence to continue performing their job at a high level.