The first of its kind for the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Deputies Appreciation Banquet was a boost to morale, Sheriff Gary Sexton said.
They need a boost, he says, because 2016 has been a rough year for law enforcement.
“We’ve taken a lot of ridicule and we’ve taken a lot of bumps,” he said. “We want to let our deputies know, not only our deputies, but our city officers and state police that we appreciate everything they do.”
Since the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the community has come together to show its support of law enforcement, he said.
“We realize that law enforcement is not one of the most popular professions right now, but for the law abiding, tax-paying citizens who want to live and raise their families, we’re trained to serve and protect,” he said.
The community poured out its support through donations of door prizes for the event, so much so, the ticket bucket was emptied
twice and door prizes were given away in batches.
Capt. Robert Hayden, coordinator of the event, says it went well.
“The way things are happening in this world, we deal with a lot of stuff and see a lot of stuff that people don’t realize we deal with,” he said. “These guys get up and do it every day, and I just thought these guys needed recognition for their years of service.”
Each division supervisor handed out certificates and a pin with their numbers of years of service. Many of the supervisors said the sheriff’s office works as a unit and one division cannot exist without the other.
Maj. Dustin Reynolds, of the criminal investigation division, says without patrol, they may not get all the information they need to complete an investigation. They assist in other capacities as well, including making arrests, collecting evidence or any number of duties.
Sexton praised the communications division, calling them the heart of the sheriff’s office.
Deputies received pins and certificates for as many as 30 years of service.
Sen. Ryan Gatti and Shreveport Police Officer Alan Alkine were guest speakers for the inaugural event.
Gatti, an ordained minister, talked about the story of Stephen, in the Book of Acts, who was stoned to death for standing up for God.
“The job you do is so important,” he said. “I appreciate the work you do. As a lawyer, I get to see some cases in juvenile court, when I was a young lawyer that just turned my stomach. You see those kinds of things every day. What Stephen was doing was standing up to evil. He knew he had to do the right thing no matter what it cost him.”
Alkine, a 22 year veteran of law enforcement, talked about some of his experiences throughout his years of service, telling several stories, some humorous and others serious. He talked about officer safety and survival.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of events, some unfortunate, and I guess I have a little perspective,” he said.
Hayden says he hopes to make the banquet an annual event.