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The City Journals

West Jordan Family ‘Backs the Blue’

Aug 10, 2016 03:49PM ● By Tori LaRue

West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond shakes the hand of a boy who gave him a card at a resident-initiated ceremony to honor police on Aug. 1. –Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Ryilee Stratton, 12, said she spent all night decorating the 100 brown bag gift packages that her family compiled for the West Jordan Police Department as part of a nationwide outreach to “Back the Blue.”
“Thanks for your service,” the bags, complete with decorative lines and thumbs up stickers, read as they lay on a table in the West Jordan Justice Center the next morning. The Stratton family, along with the Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the local boys and girls club presented the packages and verbal statements of appreciation to the West Jordan Police Department at a ceremony on Aug. 1.
“It means a lot to us; we don’t often get recognized,” Chief Doug Diamond said after accepting the gifts and praise from the local community members. “This is a difficult time for police where we are often scrutinized and shown in a negative context by some media before we have all of the facts. Utah is a great place to be in at this time because we feel a lot of support, and we don’t have all of those same issues here. For the most part we get along, and things like this go a long way.”
The Stratton family offered a prayer for the police officers, asking for their protection, and then children from West Jordan handed the gift bags to officers. Diamond greeted the children with a handshake and sticker police badges.
In all, more than 550 cities in the nation had a similar Back the Blue ceremonies, but the Strattons headed up the only one within the state.
Ashley Shepherd, the Tennessee blogger behind Beautifully Designed, a group of more than 16,000 Christian women from around the world, called for a Back the Blue day on Aug. 1 via social media, rallying women from all 50 states to pray for police and personally deliver hugs, cards, bottled water and pre-wrapped snacks. Nikki Stratton, Ryilee’s mother, said she’d tackle Utah.
Nikki felt overwhelmed at first because she didn’t have many connections within the community, she said. The Strattons have lived in Utah for one year, and they took on the project a week and a half before the event. Nikki figured that a small ceremony would be better than no ceremony, and she and her two daughters began planning by getting the word out to the community and making gift bags.
“I have five kids, and I think it is always great to show them to respect those who serve, and for them to be involved in service, even if that means just giving away little bags of candy,” she said.
Officer Russell Petersen said the Strattons' efforts showed him the majority of West Jordan residents support their law enforcement officers even when people across the nation struggle to trust police. Petersen said he reflected on his career after the recent police shootings in Dallas.
“It hits you hard when you become a target—getting up in the morning and going to work in the morning you become a target,” Petersen said. “It’s hard, but then you get the support of these people. We’ve been getting this support for weeks now, and it helps you know that you’re fighting a good fight.”
Ryilee said she felt happy to serve and wants to do more for the police.
“I think it is fun being able to serve someone who has been serving you for a long time,” she said. “I wish we could do this for them every single day like they do for us.”