The Blue Line Supports the Pink Movement
Blue, tan, grey and green. These are the colors commonly associated with law enforcement officers in Kentucky.
However, during the month of October, several agencies across the state are going pink in support of breast cancer awareness.
Such is the case with the Owensboro Police Department in western Kentucky and Grant County Sheriff’s Office in northern Kentucky.
“It’s new to us as this is our first year participating in the Pink Patch Project,” Grant County Chief Deputy Brian Maines said. “We have patches made up that resemble our patch. We’re selling them for $10 each The money is going to Saint Elizabeth Cancer Research in northern Kentucky.”
The Pink Patch Project originated as an awareness effort launched by the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association in 2016, and the movement spread nationwide.
Nearly 200 miles separate Grant County from Owensboro, but members of the police department have the same goal as their northern Kentucky counterparts.
“The department got involved in fundraising for the American Cancer Society last year when we introduced the pink car to the community,” OPD Sgt. Adam Johnston said. “(The car) was originally one of our regular patrol units that is fully equipped. We partnered with one of our local graphics companies and they wrapped it totally for free. Our cars are normally black and white, but what once was white is now pink on the car, along with all the lettering and numbering.”
According to cancer.org, 2017 saw an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women in 2017. Of those cases, some 40,600 are expected to be terminal.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office has a goal to raise $2,000, and it initially ordered 200 patches.
“We had an overwhelmingly-positive response from the community and sold out,” Maines said. “We’re waiting on a second order to come in.
“We opened it up so anyone can purchase them,” he continued. “I have challenged all of our deputies to purchase at least two patches, have them sewn on and wear them during the month of October. I have ordered a pink badge for my Class A uniform. I plan on sewing patches on Class A and Class B uniforms. I gave the guys the option.”
The fundraising goal in Owensboro is $5,000, Johnston said. To achieve the goal, he is selling pink t-shirts, and he’s received great support from his agency.
“Chief (Art) Ealum has allowed us to participate in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign,” Johnston said. “Everybody in the department is invited to wear one of the shirts that I’m selling and, during the month of October, officers can wear the shirt anytime they want to underneath their uniform shirt. Normally, you’d see a black shirt underneath, but during the month of October, they can wear this hot-pink shirt under their uniform. Our civilian employees can wear the shirt during October as well.”
The American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign gives men a leadership role in the fight against breast cancer.
According to the ACS, there were an estimated 2,470 cases of breast cancer among men in 2017.
But it is so much more than raising money. It’s also about raising awareness of the issue of breast cancer and cancer in general.
“There is no one that I know of in this community who is not directly or indirectly affected by cancer of some kind,” Johnston said. “My connection to breast cancer is that my grandmother passed away 24 years ago because of the disease. We also had an officer who had to retire early from a form of brain cancer, and he passed away earlier this year. Those are the two ties that connect me to the cause.”
While he peddles his t-shirts, he is also distributing educational materials to the public.
“Anytime we display the car, we have brochures and pamphlets that help educate the public on how nasty this illness is, and how many people it affects,” Johnston said.
Like Grant County, the Owensboro Police Department’s efforts are being noticed, Johnston said.
“We reached out to 20,000 to 25,000 people (on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16) during the (annual) Owensboro Air Show,” he said. “Before the airshow, we had our Bridge Day – that is where we shut down the bridge between our downtown and Indiana, and it gives the public three hours to walk across it – so we parked the (pink) car at the foot of the bridge and set up our t-shirts and passed out our material.”
In the end, it is not about the individual police or sheriff’s office gaining notoriety, it’s about law enforcement agencies serving their community in another needed form of service.
“When we take the car out to any public event, it’s not always about raising money, it’s about bringing awareness to the cause,” Johnston said.