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Arlington Police receive support from students
ARLINGTON — Police Chief Robert Sullenberger was driving down North Olympic Avenue recently when he saw a man in his 20s wave to him for no apparent reason.
“We have seen an outpouring of appreciation from the community,” Sullenberger said. “We’re seeing people that are just saying ‘Thank you.’”
Since four Lakewood Police Officers were killed on Nov. 29, members of the community have been showing their support for the Arlington Police Department. That support has included students within the Arlington School District, who have been writing thank-you letters and drawing brightly colored paper badges and artwork to thank them for their service.
So far, more than 100 homemade pieces of appreciation have been dropped off at the police department office in downtown Arlington, said Misti Gilman, Arlington School District spokesperson.
Students from a number of schools and grades have given items to the department so far, Gilman said. That number has continued to grow as other teachers and students get involved.
“I’ve taken down three piles of letters so far (to the police department),” said Kent Prairie Elementary Principal Kathy Engell. “Each classroom is doing its own thing and teachers are using it as a writing opportunity and as an opportunity to show support.”
Each grade did something different, Engell said. First-graders cut small badges out of paper and wrote a short message to officers and staff at the department, while second- and fifth-graders wrote letters of thanks.
One letter, written by a second-grader named Caroline, thanked officers for protecting the Arlington community.
“Thank you for keeping our people safe,” Caroline wrote. “Thank you for being brave for Arlington. Thank you for making us better people. Your friend, Caroline.”
Another student, first-grader Hunter, wrote that he was happy that the police protect him from danger.
“I hope you help other people,” he wrote. “I wish those other officers were still alive. I hope there are no other bad people.”
Engell said that her teaching staff has been surprised about how strongly the students have reacted to the Lakewood officers being killed.
“One of the teachers told me that she was very surprised about the depth of feeling,” Engell said. “One little boy wrote he was heartbroken for their loss.”
Sullenberger said he was surprised when the first wave of letters was delivered on Monday, Dec. 7.
“It’s really neat watching the smiles and warm feelings,” he said. “A lot of positive reaction has come from our members.”