Last year, there were a record 228 suicides of police officers in the U.S., according to Blue HELP, a nonprofit that aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues among those in law enforcement. The group also reported that there had been 110 suicides this year.
In light of this trend, Malvernite Doris Bové said she wanted to find a way to support police officers. “There’s a lot of police officers in the country right now that are questioning their job,” Bové said. “They need to be reassured that we need them.”
Bové, an animation and digital media teacher at Nassau BOCES, started a blue ribbon campaign in the village three weeks ago, urging residents through Facebook to tie a blue ribbon on their tree, lamppost or house to thank police officers for their service. A number of residents quickly took up the cause, and blue ribbons can now be seen hanging throughout the village. Bové said she got the idea from Cathy Bien, of Lynbrook, who started her own campaign in June.
“Once I saw what she was doing,” Bové said, “I told myself that I shouldn’t wait for someone else in the village to do it, so I stepped up. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t do something like this in Malverne.”
Bové bought 150 blue bows, and is donating one per family while asking people to pay it forward by buying additional bows to share with their neighbors. Even if residents can only purchase one, Bové said, displaying them is a quiet way to show support.
“So far, a lot of people have been inspired to buy bows on their own,” she said. “Hanging these blue ribbons is a very small gesture, but it could mean a lot to someone else.”
Bové added that the ribbons have also helped beautify the village. “Making the village even more beautiful could make everybody smile,” she said. “We’ve all been going through tough times and everybody’s been sitting at home, so we could all use a pick-me-up.”
The blue ribbon campaign was started by New Hyde Park resident Diane Bentivegna in July. In addition to supporting men and women in law enforcement, it is also intended to “battle anti-police sentiment coupled with calls to ‘defund the police,’” according to a news release from the Nassau County Legislature.
“Our officers in Nassau County reflect the very best of our communities, and are dedicated to protecting and serving,” Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James McDermott said in the release. “We appreciate what this blue ribbon means, and we appreciate the support from the residents.”
The Legislature’s presiding officer, Richard Nicolello, thanked the Nassau County Police Department for keeping families safe, especially in dangerous and life-threatening situations. “This campaign is a way for residents to show their appreciation for the work officers do every day,” Nicolello said, “and to say that they stand behind them and support them.”
Bové noted that while Malverne has its own Police Department, she hoped that her outreach would spread to police across Long Island. “I want them all to know that they’re welcome here in Malverne,” she said, “and that they are our neighbors.”