DOVER- For police officers who protect and serve their communities every day, the job can be both dangerous and rewarding. But the profession also provides camaraderie and a network of like-minded people that know no boundaries when coming to the aid of fellow officers, or their families. So when Dover patrol officer David Hammack heard the story of a 12-year-old boy in Colorado who needed help, he used his badge, literally.
In June, the Black Forest fire tore through Colorado Springs, CO, and, according to the Denver Post, killed two people, caused $85 million in damage, and destroyed 486 homes. One of those homes belonged to Jeff Jensen, a lieutenant of the Colorado Springs Police Department. His son Kyle Jensen was an avid collector of police uniform patches, and along with his home, his collection was destroyed.
According to another publication, Jeff Jensen’s brother Jared was also a member of the Colorado Springs police department, and was killed in the line of duty in 2006 by a parolee wanted for attempted murder. Following Jared’s murder, Jeff took his son to the National Law Enforcement Officers memorial in Washington, DC, to honor his uncle. At the time, Kyle was 8 years old, and he soon began collecting police uniform patches from around the world.
Following the fire that destroyed Kyle’s collection, Detective Adam Romine of the CSPD and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, sent out an email to members of the task force requesting patches from their departments to help replace Jensen’s collection. Detective Romine’s request became a Facebook post, was picked up by a radio station, and through the wonders of social networking, the word spread, and the response was overwhelming.
“It hit social media and it was out,” said Romine. “Expectations were if each task force I sent the email to sent one, I’d get 200-300, which would have replaced his collection. Needless to say, the response exceeded my expectations.”
So far Romine has received 5,000 patches from across the country and around the world, including countries like Russia, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. Working with his wife and another couple to catalogue the patches, Romine says they’re still only halfway through the patches they’ve received.
“I think the one thing it does show is the brotherhood and camaraderie in the police family,” said Romine. “We won’t make a million bucks doing this job, but when push comes to shove we all take care of each other.”
It was social media that brought Kyle Jensen’s story to the attention of the Dover Police Department. Officer Hammack manages the department’s Facebook page, and after a follower sent the story there, Hammack verified the story with CSPD and asked Sgt. Randy Johnson for permission to answer Detective Romine’s call for patches.
Hammack’s reason for sending the patch once again points to the police family. “As a fellow police department, we always look to support others,” said Hammack. “It’s a brotherhood and I think that we can not only learn from where each other has been, but also that no area is immune to natural disasters, and we always want to be there for anywhere that needs assistance.”
Hammack joined the Dover Police Department in November after moving to Wilmington from Atlanta, GA. Hammack was a police officer in Gwinett County, GA, for six years, and moved to Wilmington to help start the Valley Town Church on South Main Street in Wilmington.