Loudoun County and Leesburg law enforcement officers were shown some unexpected love this week in the form of pizza, doughnuts and crayoned thank-you notes.
What started as an impromptu delivery of sweets to a Leesburg Police station has since snowballed into a community-wide movement to show appreciation for local law enforcement following the police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Nancy Giordano and a few friends who live near Leesburg talked about dropping off doughnuts at a station. They decided it’d be nice to make deliveries to a couple of other stations too, so they created the “Loudoun Police Appreciation” Facebook page July 12 to organize their efforts.
“And it just took off,” Giordano said. “All of the sudden, we had all these different ideas of how we could show our appreciation.”
Today, she was joined by her kids, 13-year-old Jack and 9-year-old Lola, and several other families for a delivery to Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office’s University Station in Ashburn. They brought pizza, cupcakes, pie and notes for the men and women in uniform.
“We know the community supports us, but it’s good to have a reminder,” said Srgt. John Davis, of the University Station.
Generally, Loudoun residents are respectful of officers, Davis noted, but he’s seen more people going out of their way to show their appreciation. “We’ve had people buy us lunch, or restaurant owners give us half off meals. It’s really nice.”
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10), who also attended the gathering, said she has seen Loudoun law enforcement work closely with residents to keep the peace over the years. She gave the example of their response to the graffiti of swastikas and hate speech that popped up in neighborhoods a few years ago.
They worked with federal agencies and community members to find a solution, she said. “I think this is a great model for what the rest of the country needs to do.”
Sheriff Mike Chapman, who also attended the gathering, said he’s kept a close watch on his deputies in the days following the police shootings. He attended the Sunday morning roll call to check in with them and encourage them.
“We told them we understand what they’re going through,” he said. “We told them, you know, you need to keep your head on a swivel but realize we have to be right there to de-escalate tense situations.”
He said the sheriff’s office emphasizes building relationships with all of the various communities in Loudoun. “We’re actively engaged. …We look at that as paying it up front,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’ve built up trust between us because it’s trust that will get us past anything that would be a threat to us.”
Giordano said her newfound group will do its part to offer support. So far, they’ve delivered enough food and notes to cover four shifts at the Leesburg Police Department and one at the sheriff’s office’s University Station. She isn’t sure where the Loudoun Police Appreciation movement will go from here. It may just be an occasional delivery of goodies to a station or a few kind words to officers on duty.
“We’ll see,” she said. “I just want to make sure they know how we feel as a community: We appreciate you. I want to bridge that gap between the police and the community.”