Event promotes community support for Liberty Hill Police Department
By ANTHONY FLORES
With law enforcement under heavy scrutiny and criticism across the country, signs of support can be hard to come by. The Wind Therapy Freedom Riders (WTFR) rode into Liberty Hill Saturday afternoon to rally the community around the Liberty Hill Police Department.
The Liberty Hill community didn’t miss the opportunity, showing up to the event held in the field across from the police station.
The WTFR and Project Overwatch worked together to organize the event. Project Overwatch is an organization of active or retired servicemen helping law enforcement through community events and charitable organizations.
Project Overwatch has helped organize events in other parts of the country, and President Jamal Labbe believes there is a growing movement of support for law enforcement.
“We hosted one of these in Atlanta about a month and a half ago, and we had about 400 to 500 people come out,” he said. “It was a great event, and we got some wives and mothers to speak. I think we’re seeing a trend around the country and seeing an uptick in the support for law enforcement.”
Labbe says these kinds of events are important because, up until recently, the majority of support for law enforcement officers came from within the community.
“When this first started, going back to Ferguson, the only ones supporting law enforcement were law enforcement. So, it was a self-licking ice cream cone,” he said. “The idea is that we want to energize that community and extend that olive branch out to support law enforcement so that they see it’s not just their ilk. Now we see this motorcycle community. I think it’s important that they see it’s not just the mothers, wives, and themselves but also everyone.”
Liberty Hill was the fifth stop for the organization on Saturday. The group’s trek went from one end of the county to the other, including stops in Round Rock and Pflugerville, and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. After Liberty Hill, they scheduled stops in Leander and Cedar Park.
Out of the first five stops, Liberty Hill’s event proved to be the biggest in terms of community turnout. There were cake and beverages for those in attendance, many sporting pro-law enforcement flags, shirts, and signs.
Attendees had the chance to mingle with members of the LHPD and Mayor Rick Hall, who was also in attendance. The City of Liberty Hill helped with the event, providing the beverages.
“Our community is always really supportive, and this shows it,” said LHPD Chief Royce Graeter. “We’ve got a lot of community members out here besides the guys who just rode in. The City got behind us and helped us out — they hooked us up with the lemonade and tea.”
Graeter believes the event is vital for his officers’ morale, especially in the current climate.
“This is great because it makes all of the officers’ morale go up,” he said. “That’s what we need, especially in these hard times, to know that your community cares about you, that there are people out there who care.”