Family Hosts Last Police Christmas Dinner

Posted at 7:15 PM, Dec 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-25 22:05:22-05

For many police officers, Christmas is spent on the streets instead of at home with their families. One Franklin officer has been opening his home and his kitchen for 20 years to fellow officers.

Franklin Police Sgt. Paul Arnold and his wife, Dawn, have hosted a warm meal for every Franklin officer and dispatcher who has to work through the holiday. It's a holiday tradition they began two decades ago. 

"Every year right after Thanksgiving, they're asking if we're going to host Christmas dinner," Dawn said. "These guys do a lot for others, they deserve a warm meal today."

The Arnolds actually host three meals - one for each shift of officers that work throughout the day. Those officers then take meals packaged by Dawn to dispatchers stuck behind a desk.

"It's a lot of work, but we're all a big family and we have great friends who help us," Dawn said.

It's a tradition that started after one memorable Christmas meal when Paul had just joined the police department and had to work on Christmas Day. His wife decided to meet him on his dinner break so the two could share a meal.

"Come to find out, nothing was open. Nothing. So we had a Christmas meal at the cafeteria in the hospital," Paul said. "Not the most exciting or uplifting experience."

"We were the only ones in there, so it was really kind of sad," Dawn added.

That's when the Arnold's made a decision.

"We said we're going to take care of people on Christmas," Paul said.

It started small the first year, with snacks for the officers on Paul's shift. The dinner now includes steak, turkey, potatoes, corn casserole, and pies.

It's a tradition the other officers have looked forward to every year, and it's a tradition that will end this Christmas.

"If you believe my doctors, I won't be around next year," Paul said. "I was diagnosed in July and it's metastatic. It has spread, which traditionally is incurable."

Paul has been battling colon cancer for the third time. The latest was the worst prognosis of any.

The police family he has built over the last 20 years is not allowing him to face this fight alone.

"They have been in line to help Paul, it's unbelievable," Dawn said. "They've taken him to his cancer treatment appointments and stopped by the house to see him. It really is family and we appreciate it."

The Arnolds are hopeful another officer or organization will carry on their Christmas tradition next year.

"Hopefully this will inspire more brotherhood in our police family," Paul said. "If it does that, we've done great."

Until then, Paul will continue undergoing treatment to fight his cancer. He and his wife are hopeful they'll both be able to attend a new Christmas dinner tradition in 2017.