By all accounts, the Back the Blue event to honor law enforcement Saturday at The Point Event Center in Midlothian was a resounding success.
It was also the center’s inaugural event and hosted by venue owners David and Barbara Whiteman, whose dream to have a venue for weddings and special events has become a reality.
As a show of appreciation for the job they do, Back the Blue invited law enforcement members from around the area to what was an all-day come-and-go event to enjoy some fellowship, entertainment and a barbecue meal from The Vault in Waxahachie.
“We felt like we needed to do something to honor law enforcement,” David Whiteman told the Sun. “We are disappointed in the amount of negativity that they have been receiving. When the pandemic started and people were quarantined, there was much praise for all the first responders. Now law enforcement is under attack.”
Among the agencies represented was the Waxahachie Police Department, with community relations officer O.T. Glidewell, Cpl. Derrick Young and officer Danny Knight in agreement that the event was greatly appreciated.
Jay Walsh, a Ferris resident who has served as a citizen police dispatcher, also attended, saying, “I never miss these events and a chance to support law enforcement.”
Members of the Protectors, a law enforcement motorcycle club made up of former police officers, traveled from Austin to attend. Club president Dave Hughes, vice president Donnie Andrews and Nathan Dowd all agreed that showing their support was important to them.
From Midlothian, Diana Kuykendall and husband, Pepper, were there to support their city’s officers.
“I do volunteer to help with police events and I help during the citizen police academy classes,” she said.
For Midlothian PD community outreach officer Scott Hughes, the event was a family affair as he was joined by his wife Shawn and children Alivia Love, Hannah Faith, Hailey Hope and Barnabas.
“This event is awesome and we are so blessed to have this support,” he said.
Midlothian Mayor Richard Reno spoke with the Sun, commenting on how great it was for residents to turn out and meet the different officers.
In speaking to the attendees, Reno called law enforcement “heroes and champions” and said that while there are areas of the country that don’t value the police, that’s not the case in Ellis County.
“We cannot self-rule and we need a body of people to protect the people and provide safety for our communities,” he said. “This requires trust between the citizens and the police and we must provide the officers the tools to do their job.
“Our city council is committed to supporting our police officers and the chief of police,” Reno said.
Midlothian Chief of Police Carl Smith said officers believe in serving everyone in their community.
“We must rise up and get past the chatter,” he said. “We have a job to do. We are not out to impress anyone; we are out to protect and serve.
“We must answer the needs of the community,” he said. “We must use common sense. You cannot buy common sense.”
Smith said his department has been receiving support from the community through “lots” of cards and letters, from which he read a few.
Brad Norman, who became the presumptive Ellis County sheriff after winning the recent primary runoff election, also spoke, expressing the pride he felt.
“As I was picking up yard signs (from the election), I saw a group of 40-50 people holding signs that said ‘Back the Blue’ and signs saying ‘Honk your horn if you support the police.’ ”
People watching the news are told all police are brutal and racist, he said. “Those are all lies. The people of Ellis County support our law enforcement.”
Norman thanked the officers for what they do and reminded them to always remember that they serve their communities and don’t rule over them.
“It is easy to get lost in all the noise,” he said, urging people to not fall for misinformation or false narratives. He asked that Ellis County residents continue showing their support for their police departments and closed with the policeman’s prayer.
Whiteman thanked everyone on hand and urged them to return for dinner.
“We have another 200 dinners coming from The Vault,” he said.
A touching part of the event was the Wall of Gratitude, which included dozens of pictures and letters, many from young children and whose childish coloring and printing touched the hearts of those reading them.
Sponsors for the event included The Point Event Center, First Class Productions, First Class Event Planning, Heroes of Midlothian Foundation, Dirt Defender Racing Products, Tracy Briley and Associates, Demolay International Legacy Group and Scasta Farm.
Entertainers for the event included Blake Dagley, TK Brown, Sarah Almanza and Derek Coswell.
Editor's note: Updated to correct a name spelling and to add to the sponsor listing.