KAYSVILLE, Utah — In the wake of nationwide protests for police reform, one local precinct has found a way to keep morale up among their officers – now, they are challenging other departments to do the same.
“It’s been painful, it’s been really painful,” Detective Jordan Nicholas with Kaysville Police Department said as he reflected on weeks of protests, sparking negativity and resentment toward law enforcement.
As a member of law enforcement, he has been the target of a number of chants, shouted loudly by protesters and calls to defund the police have been among them.
“Law enforcement has been under attack and scrutiny,” Nicholas said. “We’re supposed to be these stoic, tough all the time… and truth is, we’re like everyone else.”
Low morale has permeated departments across the country, prompting some officers to leave the field altogether.
“I think all around the world officers have a really low morale right now,” said fellow KPD officer, Lexi Benson.
But, in what has felt like dark times, these officers have found a beacon of light through the community they serve.
“This is the 'Thank Yous',” Nicholas said as he pulled out a large manila folder stacked about two inches high with paper. “I have some cards, a lot of cards.”
Inside, there are cards, letters, awards and other tokens of appreciation and recognition.
“I still think about this case a lot, but it just, it meant a lot,” he said as he pulled out a lengthy, hand-written letter.
Whenever he is feeling down, Jordan reaches for this folder as a reminder of the good he has done in his career, and the impact he has had on community members.
“It has meant so much to me and renewed my fire,” he said. “It makes me feel like it’s not futile, you know? And it becomes like that after so many years of doing it, it’s so easy for officers to become cynical.”
A few days ago, he reached for the folder again. After sifting through, he found his meaning once again.
“The biggest reason we serve is because we love and we just want to help people,” Nicholas said. “That is absolutely my meaning, I just want to love to serve.”
Feeling refueled, he created the "Blue Challenge," a simple post on social media, asking the community to share stories of how an officer has impacted their life.
“I want our brothers and sisters of officers to know how much the community actually does love them because right now we’re not getting a lot of that or hearing a lot of that,” Nicholas said. “I want them to be aware of their purpose and remember their purpose because it can renew that hope and renew that energy and excitement to serve people."
In the first day, nearly 70 people commented. Dozens of stories, some long and some short, but all filled with gratitude.
“He probably doesn’t remember me, but he had a positive impact on my life during a difficult situation,” Officer Benson said as she read some of the comments aloud on her phone.
“Even though it was an hour away he gave us a ride all the way home,” she continued as she read another.
The support has since been amplified, prompting community members to make calls of thanks and physically bring in sweet treats and hand written cards.
“It’s been overwhelming but it’s been awesome to see that people do care about us and they do support us,” Benson said.
The officers FOX 13 spoke with said it’s the messages that truly mean the most. The weeks filled with cupcakes, cookies, candy and doughnuts, are just the icing on top.
“It’s absolutely refreshing, it’s absolutely refueling,” Nicholas said. “It rebuilds, reminds you why you’ve done this, why out of all careers this is what you picked.”
Kaysville Police is extending the Blue Challenge to other precincts in the state and across the country. They hope other departments will post the same thing to their social media accounts, to keep the love and positivity going.