The fourth annual Support Blue marathon in Fresno is quickly becoming one the largest races in the state in support of law enforcement.
Runners started showing up early and kept coming until the crowd took over Woodward Park in north Fresno, some prepared to run, others to walk in support of blue.
“Supporting blue simply means supporting police officers, supporting what police officers do in neighborhoods and supporting the overall police chapliancy,” says Rodney Lowery, director of the Fresno Police Chaplaincy.
He says the chaplaincy started the Support Blue run four years ago when negative sentiment toward police had reached its peak.
“And we thought it’s important for their to be a platform for change but there also needed to be a platform to say there are a lot of good people in the industry doing a lot of good things so let’s highlight that,” Lowery adds.
The chaplaincy itself sends chaplains into the schools to help students deal with trama. There is a program for runaways, and when you look around the community you see officers engaging residents in the neighborhoods they serve.
“Our police officers do not enjoy going out and arresting people, we would much rather be in neighborhoods participating in events doing some of those good things,” says Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
The people who came out to participate in the run, putting foot to pavement, say they came to acknowledge the good. Many have fathers, brothers, sisters and son’s serving the public.
“They have a hard time out in public sometimes and we want to show that they are loved. We are here to support them,” says blue supporter, David Wood.
And that support has grown since this event started four years ago. Four hundred runners signed up this year and there were more than 4,000 in all who expressed gratitude.
“It renews our spirit every single day to see people come out and support the police department, support police officers, support all of law enforcement,” says Lisa Smittcamp, the Fresno County District Attorney.
“For everyone who wears the badge, everyone who stands for what is right, we thank you for what you do,” Dyer says to the crowd.