It's not clear how much of an impact the first Law Enforcement Appreciation Day made across the nation Friday, but local officers said the show of support was encouraging.
Officers are under scrutiny after unarmed citizens died in confrontations with police in New York City and Ferguson, Mo. Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said the pressure is taking its toll.
"What has happened is that many police officers are questioning why they chose this profession," Mullen said Friday. "After 28 years of being a police officer, I question why any new person would choose this profession. You are demonized and criticized by many people who have no understanding about what this job is all about."
Mullen spoke to reporters at City Hall after Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, flanked by the majority of council members and a couple dozen cops, read a proclamation acknowledging the day, which was promoted by a broad coalition of national groups and backed by most tri-county municipalities.
"In the light of recent events directed toward law enforcement nationally, there is need to show law enforcement officers that our citizens recognize ... being a law enforcement officer is not just a job, it's a calling," Riley said. "They are guardians of our way of life, and they deserve our support."
Mullen said Charleston has not seen the open conflict between police and citizens that has been evident in many cities around the nation because officers here have been working to build support in their neighborhoods.
"The key is building relationships," he said. "We will continue to build partnerships."
Mullen said several officers were encouraged Friday to receive flowers, cookies, cards and other signs that somebody appreciates what they go through. He asked everybody to thank an officer whenever they get a chance, because they need the moral support right now.
"I admire and I am thankful to those people who do choose this profession," he said. "Because if we did not have police, no matter what anybody says, we would have chaos. These men and women get up every day and leave their families, not knowing whether or not they're going to come home. This is the hardest job in America today, in my opinion."
A search of Twitter showed mixed reactions for National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Some expressed their thanks for officers, while others posted photos of officers pointing guns and hitting people.
North Charleston police reported a positive reaction.
Adams Outdoor Signs placed a digital message board along I-26 showing a North Charleston police badge and "Our Heroes: Law Enforcement Appreciation Day."
Holiday Inn Express on Northwoods Boulevard and Bostic Law Firm delivered breakfast and snack items to officers, according to police spokesman Spencer Pryor.
The Mount Pleasant Police Department posted on its Twitter feed a photo of some chicken nuggets from SkyView Aerial Solutions. SkyView also changed its Facebook profile to a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day logo.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.