Officers Hope Blood Drive Helps Foster Goodwill

Posted at 7:55 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 21:07:21-04

Members of Davidson County Sheriff's Office, Metro Nashville Police Department and Nashville Fire Department were among many who rolled up their sleeves to see who could donate the most blood at the Battle of the Badges. 

As tensions mount nationwide, hundreds of local law enforcement officers offered up their own blood to help the community.

"I'm feeling wonderful," said Sheriff's Office Jailer Jonathan Rodgers with a laugh as a pump came out of his arm. "Just letting the vampire bag suck the blood out."

In high spirits, Rodgers was one of the hundreds of officers and deputies donating blood at Nissan Stadium Monday to help ease an emergency shortage this summer.

While the annual Battle of the Badges usually takes on a tone of friendly competition between the agencies, this year the event was held with the backdrop of several recent ambushes on police around the country.

With so many participants in law enforcement, the conversations quickly turned to recent events.

"We did good the last weekend with the protests," said Trooper Brandon Smith to Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson. The chief agreed, chatting with the trooper before moving on to thank others for giving blood.

"We're on the job and these recent events just emphasize the importance of the work of the men and women out there on the street," Anderson told reporters.

As tensions mount across the country, many admitted it has affected  the atmosphere within their departments.

"When you actually are living in it and you need to serve and protect it definitely takes on a different feeling of going home every day," said Sheriff's Office Cadet Lesley Piper.

They said they hoped the life-saving blood drive will help foster more goodwill, building a bridge with the community.

"We're their neighbors too," said Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy John Ford from the donation chair. "We're not somebody who just comes into the city, we're your next door neighbors, we go to church with you, our kids go to school together."

A protest on West End Saturday remained peaceful. Officers helped block traffic and even handed out water.

"Everybody's been coming up and thanking us, shaking our hands," Trooper Smith said.

While some wear their badges with a ribbon to mourn fallen comrades across the country, they hope here in Nashville the positive interactions continue.

They said their job is more like a calling.

"It's more like a ministry to me, I just like helping people," Rodgers said.