BURRILLVILLE – The state chapter of a national organization dedicated to support and advocacy for local officers and their families surprised members of the Burrillville Police Department on Saturday, Sept. 19 with gifts purchased through donations from the community.
Members of the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Police Wives Association dropped off similar donations at departments across the state this week in honor of National Thank a Police Officer Day.
In Burrillville, gifts included a new water dispenser and gift cards, drinks, snacks and other treats for all 40 department employees. Kids in the community also created handmade cards for the officers.
The gifts were purchased with funds donated from others in the Burrillville community as a show of support at a time when departments across the country find themselves at the center of controversy over fair and equal treatment of black citizens.
NPWA member Holly Dumaine-Picard, a Burrillville resident who’s husband works for the North Providence Police Department, noted that Burrillville was one of at least a dozen departments that received such gifts as part of the surprise effort.
“The initiative for Police Appreciation Day was brought up in our group and we decided collectively that we were going to adopt police departments,” Dumaine-Picard said. “At first, we were just hoping for some small gesture.”
“We just reached out to our friends in the Burrillville community. We were overwhelmed within 24 hours with the community support that came forth,” she said.
The national organization, founded in 2005, functions as something of a support group for the spouses, partners and families of those in law enforcement, and provides resources to those new to the police community. The Rhode Island Chapter has been growing in presence over the past year, in part, perhaps, because national events have left those who support officers feeling somewhat alienated.
Led by Jillian Folger-Hartwell of Providence, the organization’s private Facebook group has nearly 400 spouses and partners as members.
“I thought it was a good outlet for me,” explained Lindsay Lacey, the wife of Lt. William Lacey, a member of the Burrillville Police Department for the past 20 years. “Everything’s been very negative.”
Lacey was invited to join over the summer and has become involved representing spouses and their partners from northern Rhode Island.
Dumaine-Picard noted that the organization has also been an advocate on behalf of local departments with state government.
“We’re there to show support for our police departments, but we also have a voice at the table in the legislature, and we have a voice with what’s going on in terms of police reform,” said Dumaine-Picard. “We are the voice of our spouses, who are risking their lives every day.”
Dumaine-Picard, who’s husband has worked in law enforcement for 18 years, noted that their mission was also to create unity at a time when people feel divided.
“It’s not just the police departments that are suffering, it’s all of the families as well,” she said.
Lacey noted she got involved after seeing all the organization was doing behind the scenes.
“People seem to have a negative opinion about police officers, and there’s a lot of good ones out there, especially in Burrillville,” Lacey said. “They need some positivity in their lives.”
From a council resolution, to a community quick to answer calls to donate, Dumaine-Picard noted that in Burrillville, there’s a lot of support for law enforcement.
“We have a great community,” said Dumaine-Picard. “We’re such a close knit town and we know there’s a lot of support for the police. Burrillville’s awesome.”
“A lot of people are very willing to donate time, money or gifts,” agreed Lacey.
Dumaine-Picard said the crew at the Victory Highway headquarters was surprised by the recognition.
“They didn’t know we were coming,” she said. “We just kind of showed up. For us, it’s a first.”
Col. Stephen Lynch thanked the association, noting that the department is very appreciative of the support.
“Their spirit, support and generosity will have a very positive impact throughout the department,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the department is now building on the initiative with formation of an officer wellness program.
“A committee is being formed to put forth healthy programs and initiatives in support of officer wellness going forward,” Lynch said.
Dumaine-Picard noted that for her, it was a worthy achievement.
“We delivered hope and truly touched the lives of our heroes,” she said. “I am so extremely proud to be part of this organization.”