The community supports law enforcers, Councilman Bob Watts said at the City Council meeting.

“We need to voice our support for our men in blue,” Watts said. “We need to make that statement loud and clear.”

“Absolutely,” Mayor Casey Renfrow said. “The Police Department has focused and taken strides to be fully encompassing of the community. We respect it.”

The statements preceded Tuesday’s appreciation luncheon for the Police Department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri Highway Patrol at the department.

Leeton Christian Church Pastor Dan Lowry helped organize the appreciation luncheon, with another meal for the night shift, in cooperation with Warrensburg’s Mazzio’s and Wal-Mart.

At the luncheon, Lowry praised officers for protecting the community, including in dangerous situations that force them to deal with the “underbelly of society.”

“This is our way of saying thank you,” Lowry said to the officers, which included those who happened to be at the department for training from Henry, Jackson and Benton Counties; Sedalia and Higginsville; and the University of Central Missouri.

Johnson County Sheriff Scott Munsterman said community support is meaningful.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s the best support we’ve had since the incident took place last week. We’ve received a number of cards thanking the officers and the deputies, all the agencies in the community. The guys, during the fair last week, people were coming up to them, shaking their hands, thanking them for the service that they provide. It means a lot because we’re in this line of work to help people.”

Highway Patrolman Taggart Holston said he did not expect a free lunch.

“We get thank-yous every once in a while, and when there’s that extra step, whether it’s a handshake or a meal, it just makes us really appreciative,” Holston said. “That little bit always sticks with us.”

Police Chief Rich Lockhart said displays of community support are important to law enforcers. He said people brought in cookies and flowers following the attack on Dallas police that left five law enforcers dead last week.

Lockhart said department members would receive occasional shows of support in Kansas City, where he worked previously, but not as much as occurs in Warrensburg.

“Not on the same scale,” Lockhart said. “This is a smaller community, so it feels more like a family.”

-via Daily Star Journal