PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Residents Sunday gathered with local law enforcement throughout Wood County to offer them prayers and support in light of the recent shootings of police officers.
Residents gathered at different locations for a short prayer service and met with officers to thank them and offer their support for what they do.
The Wood County law enforcement Prayer Walk was organized by Greg Hoover of Parkersburg.
“I am a God-fearing man who felt the need to thank the officers in blue,” he said. “We are coming out and showing law enforcement of Wood County that we support them, we love them and thank them for what they do.”
Hoover got the idea to do gatherings like this 10 days ago after officers in Dallas were shot and killed by a sniper and it gained momentum as more police officers were shot and killed across the country over the last few days, with the most recent Sunday in Baton Rouge.
“I had a calling to somehow show my support for law enforcement,” Hoover said. “I thought about getting a couple of my family and friends to come together to do it.”
He invited a few people on Facebook at an event listing and it took off. He put it out publically and it grew even more. He put it in the newspaper and interest continued to grow.
“It is more than I could ever have imagined,” Hoover said. “I had a dream last Sunday night about what this could be. I started making phone calls on Monday and prayed about it and this is where we are at.”
Throughout the day Sunday Hoover went to the Williamstown Police Department where they had around 38 people participating, the Vienna Police Department with 60-70 people participating, outside the Wood County Justice Center with around 100 people participating and at State Police Barracks with a number of people participating.
By the end of they day, around 300 residents and officers participated in the services.
At the Wood County Justice Center, participants joined hands in a large circle as Hoover spoke to them.
“God spoke to me a little over a week ago after the shootings in Dallas and told me law enforcement officers in this country have gotten a bad rap and I did not want that,” he said. “Having been in the Army for 29 years, the law means a lot to me.
“I wanted to somehow show the law enforcement officers in this area that we appreciate them that we love them and grateful for what they do.”
He prayed on it, felt the push of God to figure it out and put together these events.
Hoover gave thanks to God for those who put on the uniform everyday and protect the people in their communities. He also prayed for the officers’ families and the hope their loved one will make it home to them. He offered prayers for those officers who did not make it home and sacrificed all for the safety of others and for their families who ad to make that sacrifice.
“We are there for them if they need us,” Hoover said. “Even if they don’t need us, they are still going to get our prayers.
“Please be with them when they answer that call.”
The turnout was more than Hoover expected and he was very thankful for the people who took the time to come out.
Jane Grimm of Parkersburg said she came out to support local police officers.
“I am a great supporter of law enforcement and I think they need all the prayers we can give them for protection,” she said.
Linda Nichols of Parkersburg sang the National Anthem at the Wood County Justice Center.
She has worked as a dispatcher and has family members who are in law enforcement.
“I have a total respect for what they do,” Nichols said. “With the way things are in this country we need to show them that we got their backs.”
Many of the officers present were touched by the support from the community. Many hugged those who greeted them while others took the handshakes and wellwishes offered.
Dep. B.A. Pickens of the Wood County Sheriff’s Department said he was very thankful for the show of support.
“In a lot of places, we are getting a bum rap,” he said. “That is giving us a rough time.”
Although there are good and bad people in just about every profession, with law enforcement the good more than outweighs the bad, Pickens said.
“I wish we could stop the police killings and all of the killings, but especially our brothers,” he said.