(The follow text by Brooke Bullock was provided to WDAM 7 from the Leaf River Valley Foundation. Visit http://missmississippipageant.com/team/brooke-bullock for more about Brooke Bullock.)
My platform, #BandedInBlue, was inspired by last year's tragic deaths of Hattiesburg police officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate. #BandedInBlue aims to address the tension felt between the public and police officers, specifically in communities where there is a negative stigma surrounding law enforcement officials. This is a prevalent and relevant issue that faces our society and my generation in particular. An increase in disrespectful attitudes and actions towards our law enforcement officials has potential to hinder our growth as a nation. Although there have been instances in which law enforcement officials have overstepped their boundaries and taken lives senselessly, the majority of law enforcement only seek to protect and serve our communities, states, and nation. In order to promote a more positive image of law enforcement and help build stronger communities, I encourage children and adults alike to remember five key points: 1. Comply- Police officers are authoritative and helpful- respect them and their job; 2. Understand- Police officers are here to protect us, not harm us; 3. Recognize- Our freedoms wouldn't be maintained without our men and women in Blue; 4. Appreciate- Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve others, 5. Thank- Next time you see a police officer/law enforcement official, thank them for their service and dedication to keep our communities safe! These five pillars have proven to be very effective for audiences that I have been able to engage and address. #BandedInBlue also affords me the opportunity to reach out to law enforcement officials to hear their opinions about how law enforcement and the public can work together to improve the image of men and women in Blue.
With my platform, I am not only able to serve my community, but I am able to help change the attitudes and behaviors of my peers. Unfortunately, sometimes there are negative reactions to police officer deaths, particularly a lack of sympathy for and understanding of the loss. With #BandedInBlue, I am able to work with law enforcement departments to implement "community policing" where police officers make themselves available to the public on a more personal level so that the communities served are familiar with them as police officers and, most importantly, as everyday people. "Community policing" significantly has a profound effect on teenagers because they are able to see police officers as mother/father or sister/brother figures and friends while also recognizing their authority to keep our population safe.