Across America, police officers are stepping up in what President Trump would call a “YUGE” way. Major Bobby Reed of the Bourbon County, Kansas, sheriff’s department came up with an idea which is spreading as fast as Covid-19 on social media. Rural communities don’t have urban amenities like grocery delivery, prompting officers to help fill the gap. many volunteers in law enforcement are already assisting vulnerable people to get their supplies.
Rural police volunteer a vital service
Bourbon County, Kansas is spread pretty thin. The whole county lists 14,000 people disbursed just east of the state’s border with Missouri. When stores started offering special hours for elderly and vulnerable customers, Major Reed had a flash of inspiration.
After 10 years on the force, he wasn’t about to wait for someone to ask him to do what obviously needed done. He did it. He started grocery shopping for his local at-risk residents. “These people don’t need to get out. They’re in a vulnerable age group,” he posted on Facebook. Other police departments followed his lead.
Reed’s phone immediately started ringing off the hook. Neither the local grocery store or the area’s Walmart offer their customers delivery, and Walmart’s pickup slots are jammed solid. “There’s nobody else here local to do it. We’re a rural community.” They don’t have Uber or Lyft. Those are for city folk.
Major Reed simply donned a mask and gloves and started making the rounds. He picks up a shopping list and cash then jumps in his squad car and goes. He’s been a regular fixture in the Walgreens to pick up prescriptions too. Just the first week he made about 40 deliveries. Soon his deputies were doing the same and other police departments followed suit. “It’s really taken off. It’s very rewarding,” Reed proclaims, It’s also, “very humbling.”
The service is a ‘lifeline’ to the community
Cheryl O’Brien loves to see the police show up at her door. The 56-year-old is recovering from surgery to install a pacemaker and suffers from heart and lung conditions. To her, Major Reed is her “lifeline.”
As she told the press, “I was a little perplexed on how I was going to get everything I needed. I thought I was going to have to put a mask on and risk catching something until I was told about this service.” Reed is happy to pick up her medication and anything else she needs.
“I felt bad because he has gone so many times,” O’Brien relates. “Somehow, someway, I’m going to try to repay him when this is all over. It’s something that I’m never going to forget. I just pray to God they stay safe.”
Other departments join the crusade
As word got out of the solution Bourbon County came up with, other police departments jumped on the bandwagon. Two other Kansas sheriffs reached out to Reed for advice on how to run a program so they could start something similar for their communities. As of now, there are reports of matching programs in Nebraska, Tennessee, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey and other states.
In Virginia, Appomattox County school resource officers are delivering groceries to elderly residents. The situation is the same in Lincoln Parish Louisiana. “With schools closing down, with courts closing down, our guys were going to have a lot of free time. So we wanted to do something that would help,” sheriff’s office spokesman Matthew Henderson asserts.
The police in Sarpy County, Nebraska make another very good point. Their sheriff’s deputies got a program started in response to predatory scammers in their area. Lowlife individuals were “offering to pick up groceries and supplies for residents and taking their money.” As Sergeant Kris Yount told NPR, “The idea behind it was to help defeat the scammers who had already started, and to allow those who should be quarantined to stay that way.”