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Community Support Means Everything

When I was a little boy, it was always my dream to become a police officer.  In those days, being a cop was a highly respected profession.  I looked at that shiny badge on the starched blue or green uniform as a sort of talisman… it practically seemed to bestow magical powers on the one who wore it. 

Many years later, when I became a deputy sheriff, I pinned that shiny badge on every day with pride.  Although some days have been more difficult than others, that has never changed.  I have never taken the badge for-granted, never lost the zeal to wear it and will always stand firm in what it represents – to protect and to serve.

That’s why the recent string of violent actions against police officers across the country has been absolutely heart wrenching for me.  Never before in my 35 years of law enforcement have I seen the senseless, purposeful targeting of those who wear the badge.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 99 police officers across the United States have been laid to rest so far this year.  What’s even more disturbing is that 29 of them have died from gunshot wounds, and several of those officers were shot without ever having a chance to defend themselves.    

Take for instance, Lt. Charles Gliniewicz, of the Fox Lake Police Department in Illinois.  On Sept. 1, he radioed his dispatcher that he was stopping to investigate three suspicious males.  His last transmission was that he was involved in a foot pursuit and back up officers found him mortally wounded.  Those responsible still remain at large. 

Or, Dep. Bill Myers, of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, who was serving a domestic violence injunction at an attorney’s office on Sept. 22nd.  After serving the papers, the subject opened fire on him as he walked away, shooting him multiple times in the back and the back of the head.  Dep. Myers had served the agency for 25 years and had retired, but returned only as a part time deputy serving civil papers. 

Every time tragedy strikes, I’m made painfully aware of the high cost of putting on the badge.  But, I’m reminded even more of how fortunate we are to live in Citrus County.  Why?  Because of you.

Random acts of kindness have started trickling into the agency… pizza from a local restaurant with a note that said “We appreciate you;” trays and trays of yummy home-made desserts brought to us from a local church; hand-written notes complete with pictures  from elementary school children; signs posted on businesses with messages of encouragement to us; pictures emailed to us of signs made by kids thanking us for protection; deputies and firefighters whose restaurant bills were mysteriously paid.  I could go on and on, but the gifts are too numerable to mention.

You, our community members, have shown us by your actions that you appreciate all we do.  In days of darkness, you have stood up and said “We still believe in the badge.”  Your outpouring of support has touched us and we all thank you for it.  We will continue to wear the badge proudly knowing that we do this for you – those we serve – and we will do it with exceptional pride and courage – thanks to you.

Jeff Dawsy, Citrus County Sheriff

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Citrus County Most Wanted

NAME: Earl Thames

Wanted for:
Domestic Batter by Strangulation, Felony Battery, Witness Tampering, Child Abuse

AGE: 37

HEIGHT: 5' 11"