Communities across Texoma and the country are celebrating the work of law enforcement officials through Friday in observance of National Police Officers Week.


The honorary week got its start in the early 1960s after Pres. John F. Kennedy officially designated May 15 National Peace Officers Memorial Day and called for Police Week to be celebrated around the chosen date. The event is celebrated nationwide, but an estimated 25,000-40,000 officers gather in Washington, D.C. each year for memorial services, seminars and networking opportunities.


“I can’t tell you how many times in the last week or so I’ve had citizens thank me personally, ask to shake my hand or just thank us for our service,” Grayson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Joe Ross said.


In the run up to Police Week, Ross and three other members of the GCSO Honor Guard Traveled to Austin to participate in ceremonies honoring fallen officers across the state.


“Our honor guard marched at the capital with two rifles and two flags,” Ross said. “It was a privilege to participate in that and to honor the service and the sacrifice of those who put themselves in front of harm’s way.”


Back home, Sherman Police Department Sgt. Brett Mullen said officers have also felt some added appreciation this week.


“Around here, we get quite a bit of support from the community and we really appreciate that,” Mullen said. “Throughout the year, people will come by to say thank you and drop off gift bags, cookies, lunch and even donuts. But around this week each year, we do see more of that and it means a lot to us.”


Mullen said while police officers don’t get into the profession for the praise or the thanks, such expressions often help officers make it through the more difficult aspects of the job.


“No one ever really calls the police when they’re having a good day and we’re often responding to negative situations,” Mullen said. “We know what we signed up for, but seeing all that negativity, day in and day out, dealing with it and trying not to take it home to our families is probably the hardest part about being in law enforcement.”


Despite the work’s inherent lows, Denison Police Lt. Mike Eppler said officers are in a unique position to help the public and that is what motivates them most.


“It’s very rewarding when you find a missing child or you recover someone’s stolen property that they thought they’d never see again,” Eppler said. “When we see people, they often don’t know where to turn or what to do. But the highlight of it all is being there for that person and being able to help them.”


Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com or on Twitter @DrewSmithHD.