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Blue and You hosts Bless the Badge, Color Run set Saturday

Law enforcement officers and first responders gathered alongside the community Monday to Bless the Badge and honor fallen peace officers, Monday, to kick off National Police Week.

The ceremony began with Levelland Police Chief welcoming guests and everyone who attended the event.

He pointed out the purpose for police week is to recognize those who go out every day to protect and serve the community, and to also recognize the community that has also supported the police department.

To begin, the chief recited the narrative for the table ceremony, honoring fallen officers, including Sgt. Joshua Bartlett who was killed in the line of duty on July 15 in Levelland while responding with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.

Brian Harralson was next, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and also recognizing the officer who was killed in the line of duty in New York over the weekend.

“He was a security guard who was a retired police officer but his oath and his calling were not retired,” Harralson said.

Pastor Mike Holster delivered a message for those in attendance. He showed the crowd the badges he had gathered from those in attendance Monday and said “it’s an honor to hold these.”

“You give of your lives, your moments, day by day, we never know when you need prayer but we pray for you, we remember,” Holster said.

He said that people often say and have said “we have your back” when talking about supporting the police, but in Levelland, it means more.

“I’ve had to call on the police, the sheriff, DPS, EMS, firefighters and other agencies in time of need and you were always there,” Holster said. “I may not know your names or titles, but when I hold these badges, it’s a reminder to me that you care.

“God knows and God cares, and when we don’t know what’s going on in your lives, we pray for you,” Holster continued. “We got your back. We may not be there with you, but we have your back in prayer.”

Next, Cory Foley, chaplan for the Levelland Police Department, addressed the crowd.

“We are a family, we are a community,” Foley said.

Foley reminded those in attendance that the community was approaching the one-year mark since July 15, when Sgt. Bartlett gave his life to protect the community and a Levelland police officer, Sgt. Shawn Wilson, was injured in the line of duty.

“The support we get from the community, we’re very thankful, it means a lot to us that we have the support of the community,” Foley said. “That tells you we are strong, we have faith in God, and that’s what we need.”

Foley went on to read from the book of Psalms and reminded officers to keep the faith, day in and day out.

“You have to keep the faith in God, that’s what keeps me going each and every day,” Foley said. “Staying faithful to this family, may not be blood family, but it’s my work family.”

He said when being a police officer becomes overwhelming, turn to God.

“The job gets tough, but you keep the faith in God and God will preserve you,” Foley said. “We have to keep believing, keep striving, keep going. There is no weapon against you that shall prosper, we are covered in the blood of Jesus.”

Chief Albert Garcia gave an emotional speech, reminding the community of the character of the first responders in Levelland.

“This is exactly the type of police officers we have, firefighters and EMTs,” Garcia said. “These people go out and do this job every day.”

He thanked Pastor Holster and Foley for their messages, and also thanked the next Levelland City Manager, Brandon Anderson, for attending.

“Thank you pastor and Cory for such wonderful words,” Garcia said. “We want to thank the council members who were able to attend and Brandon Anderson, the new city manager.”

Garcia said Levelland is a great place to live and he is proud to call it home.

“Levelland is great, we do great things here in Levelland and we are going to continue doing great things in Levelland and Hockley County,” Garcia said. “Thank you community members for always supporting us.”

He went on to remind police officers to thank their spouses, because they go through turmoil together.

“Thank your spouses, they are right there in it with you,” Garcia said.

In conclusion, Garcia thanked all first responders for their sacrifice for their community.

“Thank you first responders, we have to make sure we are all going out there to battle the darkness together,” Garcia said.

The Bless the Badge ceremony was hosted by the Blue and You, a 501c3 non-profit organization that raises funds to host community events that build relationships between law enforcement in the community.

The organization will also host the second annual color run Saturday, May 21, at Levelland City Park. Runners can register up until the morning of the event.

The race will start at 9 a.m. with registration beginning at 7:45 a.m. at the Pavilion No. 1 inside city park, closest to the Levelland Civic Center on McKinley Street.

The cost is $25 per runner and $20 per person in a team of four. There are also sponsorship opportunities available.

Garcia said the non-profit organization is focused on building relationships between the community and the police department.

“Many times, the first time a community member has contact with a police officer, they aren’t having the best day of their lives,” Garcia said.

He said this is a way for the community to become familiar with who their local police officers are and to build a foundation of trust between the two.

“This is a great opportunity to meet police officers with the Levelland Police Department and for us to meet and establish great relationships with our community members,” Garcia said. “The overall goal is to do that.”

For more information on sponsorships or registration, contact Rick Wooton at (806) 894-6164.

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie on May 21, 2022 at 10:28 am

    When is this color run?? Did I miss it?

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