From home cooked meals to hand written thank you cards, police departments across the country have been inundated with support from their local communities, and the Gulfport Police Department is no exception. The walls of the department's briefing room are lined with thank you cards, and the showering of love has become a daily occurrence.
"It's great to know that our community backs us still, regardless of what's being publicized nationwide," said Sergeant Damon J. McDaniel.
Since the shooting deaths of officers in both Dallas and Baton Rouge, Officer Benjamin Bentz said the citizens and businesses of Gulfport have really reached out and shown their support to the department.
"We go out there every day and do things for people that we don't know. Especially in light of the recent events and things that have happened with officer slayings, it helps to know that our community supports us, and is willing to take their time out and their money to help us," said Officer Benjamin Bentz.
Officers said, over the past couple weeks, they've rarely had to pay for a meal. Every day, sometimes twice a day, they get a special delivery from someone in the community.
"The food and everything is nice, but just a simple thank you for what you do is more appreciative than a lot of people realize," said Bentz.
McDaniel said the food warms more than just their bellies.
"It's almost like having another brother and sister in blue without them actually wearing the badge and the gun," said McDaniel.
The support for officers is far reaching. McDaniel traveled to Baton Rouge for the funeral of Deputy Brad Garafola on Friday. When he and another officer stopped for lunch, they were treated to a wonderful surprise.
"When we asked for our bill, our waitress comes back and she had that low voice. You had to lean in to hear what she was saying. And she said, 'Your bill's been taken care of as a sign of gratitude and thank you for what you're doing,'" said McDaniel.
The Gulfport Police Department will be sending representatives to the funeral of Montrell Jackson in Baton Rouge Monday.