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Appreciation shown to law enforcement

Members of Brookhaven First Assembly Church opened their doorsand their arms to area law enforcement Thursday night at theirfirst Law Enforcement Appreciation Banquet.

“You guys see things every day that none of the rest of us see,”Pastor Jim Mannon told the crowd.

He read two letters to begin the assembly, one from Mayor BobMassengill and one from Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, both of whomhad prior engagements.

“We live in a community where law enforcement is of utmostimportance,” Massengill wrote. “Our law enforcement officials puttheir lives on the line often and fail to receive the recognitionthey deserve.”

Bishop wrote that his seven and a half years in office had shownhim the importance of law enforcement, not just in the area ofsafety, but as a reassurance to citizens of the community.

“There is no better sight than to see an officer coming to yourrescue,” Bishop wrote. “Two words come to mind when I think of you:Necessary and noble.”

Keynote speaker and Easthaven Baptist Church Pastor DannySingleton said he wanted it to be clear to the men and womengathered that they have a community behind them that respects andsupports them.

“The reason we’re here is to let you guys know we love you,” hesaid. “Thank you for carrying the torch to protect my fivechildren, my beautiful bride, and all my friends and loved ones inLincoln County.”

Singleton pointed out that the men and women of area lawenforcement agencies are on the forefront of what amounts to afight between good and evil, and that the stakes are high.

“All Hell is against you because you are who God has placed overus as authorities,” he said. “The enemies of this age hate theauthorities God has put into place. We want you to know it’s notyou against the world all the time, because you have some of us inyour back pockets believing in you.”

The life of a law enforcement officer is hard, Singleton said,quoting statistics on stress factors in the workplace. But, hesaid, it takes a person of uncommon valor to do the job.

“You guys struggle with more than the general population does orsees on any day,” he said. “And with the long hours, and working onholidays, this is definitely a calling from God.”

And he called on the group to not only know the Lord, but to setan example for Him.

“All of us have a date with death, and we don’t need to playwith that,” he said. “God has put you in a posture of leadership,and you must decide what to do with Jesus Christ.”

Singleton made the point that while the officers are bulletproofin their kevlar, they are still only human, and that their churchesand members of the community are there for them and want tohelp.

“Who’s going to help the helpers?” he asked. “You’re not toughenough to handle all those awful things you see. We want you toknow we love you.”

Mannon closed Singleton’s speech by telling the group thechurch’s walls are a place where they, too, are protected.

“We’re men, we’re not supposed to cry,” he said. “But sometimeswe have to. We just want you to know you’ve got a friend.”

Those who serve and protect were understandably moved by thegesture, too.

“It’s hard to sit here, a cop, and listen to all you’re saying,”said Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson, who asked for a chanceto speak when Singleton and Mannon were finished. “There’s no way Icould walk out of here without thanking you, because we need thisfrom time to time. The food was good, but the fellowship was muchmore important.”

Sheriff Steve Rushing echoed the sentiment. He said that justknowing the community was behind the efforts of local lawenforcement, at least in part, is a great encouragement.

“This really hits home for us, because we’ve dealt with so manyof those things you talk about,” he said. “It’s a great help toknow people in the county do support us.”