When Sheyla Carrillo picked up her 9-year-old daughter Adriana after work on Monday, Adriana told her she wanted to do something nice for the Pembroke Pines police.
“She’s very keen on what’s going on,” Carrillo said, referencing the recent shootings in Dallas that left five police officers dead and seven more wounded.
So Carrillo drove her daughter and her two nieces — 7-year-old Marisol and 4-year-old Evelyn — to Publix, and let the girls pick out chocolate chip and sugar cookies, blueberry muffins and chocolate cupcakes. “They would’ve kept buying more had it not been that we couldn’t carry any more,” Carrillo said, laughing. From there, they drove to the department and delivered the treats and a handmade card to a group of surprised and grateful police officers.
South Florida police have been on the receiving end of several gestures of gratitude over the past few days after the Dallas shootings. Those shootings came as police across the country were contending with growing anger after last week’s deaths of Philando Castile and Alton B. Sterling, two black men shot and killed by police officers. Castile was shot during a traffic stop in Minnesota; Sterling, while selling CDs in front of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Since then, numerous police in the U.S. have been targeted by shooters during traffic stops or at courthouses.
The Dallas shootings happened last Thursday, as a peaceful protest against the shootings of Castile and Sterling was winding down. Micah Johnson, 25, an African American Army Reserve veteran, had told police he wanted to kill white officers, and he targeted officers at the protest. He was killed by Dallas police.
“What happened in Dallas was a frontal attack against the profession of law enforcement,” said Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. “Everyone feels it. So to see the support that we have been getting is heartwarming.”
Across South Florida, there’s been a wave of support for the police: flowers left on patrol cars, messages left at police stations and treats delivered for departments. Officers have even seen more people stopping them to say thank you.
“It gets to a point where you wonder, is anyone really out there that supports law enforcement?” said Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera. “So you get these notes, these little gestures, pats on the back — some of these guys break down and cry, because they feel that someone finally appreciates their sacrifice and what they risk.”
Davie Police Capt. Dale Engle said after eating at a restaurant with the Davie police chief and other officers Monday, every diner stood to offer their thanks for their service. That same day, another pair of officers dining together had their bill paid for by a stranger.
“It reinforces why we got into this job to begin with,” Engle said. “That’s their way of saying thank you.”
Sending a gift of appreciation for the Hollywood Police Department came out of an office discussion at Ansel and Miller, a personal injury law firm. The group came up with the idea of buying cakes to hand deliver to the station with a thank you note.
“If it made one of them feel a little bit better about wearing the uniform, then mission accomplished,” said Eric Ansel.
Tom Demmery, Hollywood’s acting chief of police, said in an email that the “numerous cards, posters, food items and well wishes” have “given us the strength and support we need to continue during this difficult time.”
“The simple act of just saying ‘thank you’ or ‘we appreciate the job you do’ goes so far to lift the spirits of our police officers,” he said.
Miami police officer Frederica Burden said in the past week she has been thanked “more than ever.”
“A lot of times it’s a thankless job,” she said.
For Miami Beach police officer Ernesto Rodriguez, a trip to Whole Foods ended up making his day when a man patted him on the back.
“He said, ‘I know it’s been rough, but know you have people who care,’ ” said Rodriguez, who added that the station has received a lot of appreciation, including homemade cookies from two children. “I shook his hand and said thanks. He definitely made me feel good about myself.”
And it’s not just in South Florida. Officers leaving a memorial for the slain Dallas officers received hugs, four Dallas girls raised $10,000 for the Dallas Police Association by selling lemonade, and several Louisville restaurants picked up the bills for police officers Tuesday, WLKY.com reported.
“There are good officers who are out there in communities doing a good job,” said Michelle Niemeyer, a Coconut Grove attorney and former Miami city commission candidate. “They need to know that we care.”
That’s why she took a picture with a Coconut Grove police officer Tuesday and shared it on Facebook with the caption, “Today’s hug your neighborhood cop day! Love this guy!”
“I did it intending to create a message,” Niemeyer said. “They ought to get some positive reinforcement for doing a good job.”
Carrillo said she’ll support her daughter and nieces if they want to make another delivery to the department to show their thanks.
“It’s something I want them to keep going with and pursuing in life — to be kind to everyone,” she said.