Westfield Police Dept. showered with thanks, gifts

By Anna Skinner

Westfield Police Dept. Chief Joel Rush said he and the department have always felt appreciated by the community, but following the shootings of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La., the community has increased its thanks.

“There hasn’t been a day in the past couple of weeks that someone hasn’t brought something in for us,” Rush said. “It’s all cookies and doughnuts and pizzas, and the outreach has been wonderful. The climate that’s going across the United States (with law enforcement) isn’t necessarily here. We feel more supported now than we have in a long time.”

The WPD also has received thank-you cards, and Rush said the officers are often stopped on the street by community members expressing their thanks.

Yet despite the goodies and kind words, WPD officers still have heavy hearts over the killings of their brothers in blue.

“We are all saddened by it, and it’s always on our minds,” Rush said. “It really puts your head on a swivel. We have reached out, to our younger officers especially, to make sure they’re dealing with it OK, and they seem to be.”

A crisis team with officers trained to identify symptoms of PTSD and depression is available to officers in the department.

“It’s really about being together as a group and working through those things,” Rush said. “There’s always a bond (with the police department), we always back each other up. This just heightens it.”