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Neighbors approve of police appreciation billboard

Watchfire Signs

As the Black Lives Matter protests continue across the country and right here in Fort Wayne, some people are noticing a local billboard campaign that shows appreciation for local police.

“We can’t stereotype every police officer for what other officers have done,” community activist Jerry Vandeveer says.

Three months ago, Vandeveer bought several billboards around town to show appreciation for police.

He says officers worked with him 20 years ago to rid his downtown neighborhood of drug dealers and prostitutes, and he’s been paying it back ever since.

“We can’t stereotype every police officer for what other officers have done,” community activist Jerry Vandeveer says.

Even though the political climate has transformed over the past few weeks, and Vandeveer says everyone has a right to an opinion, he firmly believes there’s more good than bad officers in our area — officers he says give up a lot with their families in order to serve and protect.

“When times get a little shaky, we should stand behind them. I don’t think we should be running to whoever has the loudest voice or whoever can get the most media attention. the idea is when we needed them, they were there. They need us now and we should be there,” he says.

People in the neighborhood we talked to all approved of the billboard and its message.

“Especially the ones that are out there committed to the values that everyone believes in. The bad ones, just as they should be punished, the good ones should be rewarded,” Raj Price says.

“Some of them are not right. Some of them are not right but some of them are. We still got some good policemen in here. I have cousins that have been policemen and everything,” Marilyn Stephens tells us.

“The neighorhood keeps getting better, I think. The church has had so much to do with helping this neighborhood out, so I support the church, the neighborhood, and the police,” Dave Wagner says.

“I think they should need more billboards like that. That’ll get really a lot of these teenage kids a point,” Barbara Helton adds.

Vandeveer says he paid for the billboards out of gratitude for everything he says officers have done for him and the city.

“Everybody needs ’em. And who do you call? We don’t have Ghostbusters, we have our law enforcement,” Vandeveer says.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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