Local business owner is backing the Blue in a special way, and hopes the community joins in.
Galvanized by sadness over the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas July 7th, a Lumberton businessman has launched a personal “crusade” to show police officers they have public support.
Don Burnett wants to encourage others to join him in installing blue light bulbs to illuminate the porches of hundreds of Lumberton homes.
“I’m going to go and buy about 45 - 50 (blue bulbs) and walk around my neighborhood and I’m going to actually go and put the bulbs in myself (for neighbors),” said Burnett.
The Allstate Insurance agent in Lumberton says he took cues from a mini-movement for veterans in starting his effort. In that case, citizens bought green light bulbs and put them in at their porches to support military veterans. He says he has had a blue light at his home for years.
Burnett says he’s saddened not only by the shootings in Dallas (that also injured eight other officers and two civilians), but the general state of public sentiment regarding the work of police.
Burnett told the Ledger, “in the back of their minds (police officers), they have to be saying… am I in the right profession?”
The Dallas shootings were the deadliest single event for U.S. police officers since 9-11-2001. The only events that compare in recent history were the fatal shootings of four officers in both Lakewood, Washington and Oakland, California in 2009.
Already there appears to be growing support for the idea. At least three people have told Burnett they would like to do the same.
“I want it so you can’t drive through a single subdivision in Lumberton and not see ten of these blue light bulbs when that porch light is on,” he said.
Lumberton Police Chief Danny Sullins says the Dallas Massacre had a chilling effect on many officers and says this is a great effort.
“We’re honored that the citizens have stood up for officers and support law enforcement here and we’re very honored at how they think about us… it’s an honor to serve folks like that,” said Sullins.
“Do we get discouraged from time to time? I’m not going to lie to you, we do. But when the citizens do something like this… or what they did after the shootings? (Bringing us food, honking as they passed the station to show support) That gives the officers even more reason to want to serve,” Sullins said.
The Dallas gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, told officers during his standoff he was killing police out of a hatred for white people and white police officers in particular. The Black Lives Matter movement, which is generally critical of cases of officer-involved shootings of African American men around the country, has resulted in passionate and sometimes violent protests in dozens of U.S. cities.
To the larger issue of officer-involved shootings in the U.S. Burnett has a simple answer.
“I’m not saying that there’s not bad officers out there. I’m not saying some (of the officers) are absolutely innocent and everything’s perfect. What I’m saying is these police officers go out there every single day and put on that badge and put on that gun, and protect our property, homes and families. And I appreciate that… there’s bad apples in every group.”
Burnett told the Ledger, “I can tell you right now, we have one of the best police forces (Lumberton) in all of Southeast Texas and I’m so proud of them.”
The bulbs are typically only $9 apiece, but Burnett hopes to get M&D Supply in Lumberton to sell them at-cost for roughly $3.50 apiece.
Burnett’s insurance agency is at 624 S. Main Street in Lumberton.