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Sandy Backs the Blue rally attracts crowd, displays appreciation for law enforcement

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Many attending the Sandy Backs the Blue rally Saturday,  July 11, sported event T-shirts and came equipped with American flags and signs. Sandy residents came out in numbers to Centennial Plaza Saturday night, July 11, with one purpose: honoring the law enforcement officers of the Sandy area.

Sandy candidate for Clackamas County Commission Position No. 4, Mark Shull, attended the rally, among several others. Shull said he "wanted to come because I want to encourage folks here that Sandy is not going the way of Portland."

"These people are from all different backgrounds," Shull said. "But we're all concerned about one thing: the health and security of our community."

"We're the silent majority," Sandy Backs the Blue co-organizer Sheri Emerson explained. "(Law enforcement officers) need to know their community stands behind them. We care about our community and if you don't have protection, you have anarchy. There are good people and bad people in this community, just like there are good cops and bad cops. Sandy has good cops."

Numerous members of the Sandy police force came out to the event as well, including Lt. Sean Lundry, who spoke to the group assembled about not only his appreciation for their support, but the difference in culture Sandy experiences in terms of policing and public support.

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Lt. Sean Lundry of the Sandy Police Department talks with Sandy Backs the Blue co-organizer Juli Hager."I've been a police officer for 18 years, and I've never seen the support for police that I've seen in the last three weeks from this community," Lundry said. "Sandy is more supportive than any city in the state. This is phenomenal. I want you guys to understand your role in our jobs. We exist because of you. We believe in Sandy that we have a partnership with our community … I think it's important to recognize that all of our officers are your neighbors … the coaches. This community is their community also, and I've never worked with such a dedicated group of individuals as these officers here in Sandy."

The event consisted of multiple speakers, including Lundry, Shull, local real estate broker Val Gillum, state Backs the Blue advocate Janira Brannigan and more, as well as a raffle and sales of thin blue line bandanas and Sandy Backs the Blue T-shirts.

Many speakers, like Brannigan, offered personal experiences to back their support of law enforcement officers.

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Janira Brannigan, Salem resident and Backs the Blue supporter, tells her story of being helped by law enforcement. "Every officer, every fire department, every place you go, it's your obligation to support them," said Brannigan. "They need to feel that the community backs them up. There is no backing down. Because, when you call them, they're going to come. They're not going to care about who you are or what you do, they're there to do their job. So, your job as a patron, as an Oregonian, is to do the same. So, I'm calling on every single one of you to stand up and no longer sit quiet and silent."

Brannigan offered an anecdote to explain her support as well, telling the crowd about the police work that years ago brought her brother's killer to justice. Her brother was 23 when he was murdered in California, and a local detective solved the case over the span of two years.

"I owe all law enforcement. I look at them and they all look the same to me," Brannigan added. "All of them, you don't know what they have to go through. So, you know what, I back the blue every single day, and I will never be ashamed of it."

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Residents of all ages decorated and held signs showing appreciation for local law enforcement at the Sandy Backs the Blue rally on July 11. Mayor Stan Pulliam sent word he would not be able to attend but offered this statement:

"When I became mayor of the town I grew up in, I felt no greater sense of responsibility than to keep our community safe. We've been blessed with what I believe to be the best law enforcement department in the Portland metro area. As a father of two little girls, who decided to return to this community so that my kids could have the same experiences I had when growing up here, I am forever thankful to our officers and their families," Pulliam wrote. "Our police officers represent the very best of our nation, state and local community. Thank you to all of our neighbors here in Sandy and our greater community along with the organizers of this event for taking a moment to recognize these wonderful people for what they do. When we run away from danger, they run towards it. Never forget that. God Bless."

Officers Lew Sytsma, Halali'i Ling and Garrett Thornton were present in uniform, with Officer Manny Herrara and Reserve Sgt. Michael Freeman attending as civilians. All spent time socializing and taking photos with the community members in attendance.

"Just know that we love the support and we know that you're here for us, and it keeps us going, but I also want to make sure that everyone understands that we're not experiencing a lot of lack of support that other places are," Lundry said. "We have an amazing community that has supported us even prior to any issues, and it continues. Just so you guys know, we're good. Keep it up, we appreciate it. You're our eyes and ears. Please tell us when we're doing it right, but it's even more important to tell us when we're doing it wrong. We want to be better. We want to be the best police department we can be. We want to provide the best community service that we can for you. Never feel like you need to apologize for calling us."

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Thin blue line bandanas and Sandy Backs the Blue T-shirts were in great demand at the rally on Saturday. Sandy Backs the Blue organizers said this is not the last of their efforts and they will be letting people know of other ways they plan to show their support for local law enforcement soon.

"(This event) was amazing," said co-organizer Dixie Bailey. "We always want more (people attending), but the people who took time out to be here on a Saturday is phenomenal. You can still love and care for everyone even if you don't believe in their organization. We're here for everyone."

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