Why Badges Across America?
Charlie Simmons, Retired Sergeant from Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Colorado
Law enforcement is an amazing job with some very exciting and intense days. Just look at all of the movies, TV shows and live action shows about the job. In 2011, I had been at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 20 years and realized there were only had a handful of photos of me on the job. Turns out, this was the case for most of my coworkers. Photography had been a hobby of mine for years so I decided to start carrying my camera on shift and when the situation allowed for it I could capture those moments of my fellow deputies doing their jobs. I had found my passions – law enforcement and photography.
As time allowed, I continued to take more and more photos at the Sheriff’s Office. I was given the opportunity to attend K-9, SWAT and SORT training days to capture their intense training sessions. About a year into this, I created short photo montage videos and shared them with everyone at the Sheriff’s Office and the response I received was phenomenal. My co-workers thanked me for sharing the photos and were excited about what I was doing. I began giving back even more and made all the photos available on a shared drive at work as I wanted everyone to have photos of themselves and friends to remember the great career they were in.
These photos had sparked something. Many of my co-workers told me how happy their families were to share in their experiences as they had never “seen” them at work before. I began getting request for portraits, team photos and action shots. This helped to build comradery and pride within the agency.
In 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the National Law Enforcement Officers week in Washington DC and was awestruck by the unity of law enforcement officers from across the country. I had my camera and captured some compelling moments. I shared the officer’s photos with the agencies that they worked for, one of which made a profound impact on me. After emailing the photo to the agency I received a reply thanking me for sending the photo and how it started a photo sharing/story telling spree at the agency.
I am doing this because I want other agencies to have the same experience that Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office had, to help build their esprit de corps and be able to visually share stories with their families.
This is bigger than just the law enforcement community, the public should see and hear the stories of the men and women that protect them, the individuals behind the badge.
Tricia Simmons, Global Project Manager
Because I love my husband and believe in what he chose as his career. I believe in him and how he served his country and his community. Because of him, I learned to care deeply for how the career of law enforcement affects our officers and their families. Sometimes I wish I could be that young girl, just married, encouraging her husband to become a cop because that was what he wanted. I really didn’t fully understand what this meant.
For most of Charlie’s 27-year career our lives were like anyone else’s. However, there were the times I would take the kids to their soccer games or school events and people would ask me if I was a single mom because they never met Charlie as he was working nights and weekends.
I would think we were normal until I would have the conversation with Charlie about what would happen if he died in the line of duty. How would the agency handle it? Who would be the person to tell me that Charlie had been killed. Please let it be one of our friends to tell me…
We were normal until Charlie would come home and tell me a heart-breaking story of how he responded to the call of an elderly couple where the husband, who suffered from dementia, sat by his wife as she died holding his hand. The opened containers of food scattered around as he tried to feed her.
We were normal and then he would come home and tell me how someone talked to him, called him ugly things. I wanted to go and hit someone – how dare they insult my husband. Just look at him – so strong, and smart and kind.
And we would laugh at something absurd that happened to him at work. Everyone does this, right? It’s normal.
Normal. We are normal.
I am full of admiration for my husband, and for those like him, who serve their community and provide our first line of safety. I want to serve them, provide them an opportunity to share their stories, to let the public in so they can see the sacrifices they make every day in their career.
For this reason, I helped to found Badges Across America. Because it means something to me and I hope through sharing their stories, it means something to you.