Group seeks to eliminate stigma surrounding law enforcement

Police officers keep our communities safe, but who is looking out for them?

Circumstances surrounding events like the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and Walter Scott have led to a potentially deadly stigma around police officers.

They do a job many of us wouldn’t, but Shawlyn Dungan says police officers often get a bad rap.

"They're just people in uniform,” Dungan said. “Unfortunately, they get that stigma because of a few bad people."

In January, Dungan set out to try and eliminate that narrative by starting the Carterville Blue Line Network.

"We just want to try and create situations where the community can come together with the police department and have fun and get to know each other on a more personal level and not only in emergency situations,” Dungan said.

Eight weeks into her new post as police chief, Heather Reno says public support has eased her transition into the department.

"When kids can understand that that scary officer in that uniform is a dad or is a mom, it makes the officers more approachable," said Reno.

"We've got a four year old, and we just want him to come home safely to us. And we would like all of our officers to be happy and safe in our job," said Dungan.

While recruiting local departments to join the Blue Line Network, the group is working to get non-profit status so it can donate proceeds to departments in need.

For a full list of Carterville Blue Line Network fundraisers click here.

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