Marion churches "adopt a cop" to strengthen community relations
MARION, Va. - Churches in Marion, Virginia are trying to change the way their community views police by "adopting a cop."
It's all part of the area's Blue Prayer Program.
In the program, members from Grace and Greenwood United Methodist Churches pick an officer's name out a hat.
Then they promise to keep that officer in their thoughts and prayers.
"It's nice to know that you're appreciated," said Judy Testerman, a member of the program. "People bring stuff by the station for officers, and shake their hands, and offer to give them hugs when they're out."
Testerman has a personal reason for getting involved.
"My son is a police officer with the Marion Police Department, so this has meant a lot for us to know that not only do we pray for them, but people in the town pray for them, and that's important," said Testerman.
Police chief Rex Sanders says the program has had a positive impact on strengthening the relationship between police and community members.
"A lot of times, during the holidays we see some of our crime-- shoplifting, scams-- pick up. So, we're working harder, and this gives our officers a little touch of Christmas here at the police department," said Chief Sanders.
Kelen Wilson created the Blue Prayer Program after she saw the bad reputation cops across the country were getting.
"If our police officers are willing to go out every single day, literally putting their lives on the line, the very least that we could do is say a prayer for their safety," said Wilson.
Plus, once a month, church goers send a card to their officer to let them know they're in their thoughts.
"If you want to drop off some cookies or cupcakes to the officers throughout the year, church members are welcome to do that," said Wilson.
She hopes to bring the officers into her Sunday School classroom in the future to further strengthen police relations.